eyewitness news at 11, 7-31-13

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     Good evening, everyone.

     I'm Frank Malloy.

     Our top story tonight at six...

   Hawkinsville police tased a 67-year old Hawkinsville man three times.

    He says he was walking away from police when it happened... Police say he wasn't being cooperative.

    His neighbor.. caught it all on VIDEO.

    Tom George joins us now to walk us through what happened.

      This is the incident report obtained from the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

      It says that 67-year old Billy Milner was tased by deputy Mike Thomas.

      This isn't the first time Pulaski used a taser this year... But officials tell me they don't know exactly how how many times they've used the device.

      Chief Deputy Jason Fremont estimates it's the fourth time this year.

Tim Fowle says he often sees squad cars headed to his neighbors' house in Hawkinsville.

< The police have been out there 8 to 10 times>

 

His neighbor, 67-year old Billy Milner lives on property owned by his family.

Milner says they've been wanting him to move out, and that's led to family arguments...and police calls.

 

But on July 22nd, one of those calls ended with this...

 

NAT POP

 

Milner being tased, all caught on VIDEO by his friend next door, Tim Fowle.

< Well at first when I heard the pop, I thought he was shot, I couldn't believe it.>

 

NAT POP

("That's from the stun gun? Yeah, I got hit with two things right there)

 

Milner says he WAS TASED FROM BEHIND WHILE WALKING AWAY FROM A DEPUTY. 

The Deputy says MILNER wasn't cooperating when told he was going to jail

< The deputy didn't know if he was going after a gun or a knife, the deputy told him to stop, advised him he was under arrest, and tased him when he resisted.>

 

Police charged MILNER with battery....saying he hit his brother's girlfriend while trying to get his dog back from her trailer.  Milner says he wasn't told of the charge until he got to jail.

< He didn't tell me I was under arrest or nothing right, he didn't read my rights, we didn't tell me to turn around or nothing, and I was walking back to the trailer, not running or nothing, that's when he got me with the stun gun. >

 

 

Milner DOES HAVE A CRIMINAL RECORD. The Florida Department of Corrections web site says he spent 20 years in prison on several charges...including sexual battery.He now must wear an ankle bracelet as a registered sex offender.

But he says being tased was a painful first.

< I fell down, I was like that, and I was really out of my mind a little bit, when he stunned me, cause I ain't never been hit with a laser gun.>

 

An incident report obtained through Georgia's open records law shows Milner was TASED THREE TIMES BEFORE HE WOULD COOPERATE WITH THE DEPUTY.

 

< Now according to the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office rules about the use of tasers, any kind of resistance to an officer, even if it's just verbally saying "i'm not going to jail," is enough to allow the use of a taser. It's why even though the video shows Milner with his back to the officer and walking away, he was able to be tased. >

 

 

Chief Deputy Fremont says tasing Milner was a safer option than trying to physically restrain him.

And says Milner's age....67.... IS NOT a barrier to being tased.

< In the scenario that took place out there that day, the way the deputy handled it was proper. >

 

But the man behind the camera, also a former cop, says things could have been handled better.

< They're supposed to serve and protect, and it didn't seem like they were doing either.>

   Now Chief Deputy Fremont did admit to me that he thinks the department should keep better records of tasing.

   He  says officers do have to mention using a taser in the narrative of their incident reports..  But there's no "box" to check for use of force.

   And that makes it difficult for the department to easily find all incidents when a taser was used..

   He says moving forward, officers will be able....and required to ...log their use of force.

   That way investigators can easily search for specific incidents were an officer needed to use a weapons, whether it be a gun or taser, Frank?

  While many call tasers a safer, non-lethal option for law enforcement... They can have dangerous side-effects.

   Nationally..  there have been more than 500 deaths from tasers since 2001.

     That's according to Amnesty International.

    A study by Indiana University showed shocks from tasers  "can cause cardiac electric capture and provoke cardiac arrest"

There's a water treatment plant in Juliette owned by the county. The catch is - people who live in the area don't see a drop of that water. Judy Le talked to some homeowners who use while they wait for the county to make some changes.

This is what Greg Elrod relies on for clean water ...

 

<i spent 12 to 15 thousand dollars on my water system here>

 

Residents in Juliette don't have county water. They rely on wells. But that water is contaminated with varying levels of radium and uranium ... and need to be tested every year.

 

<if it was not dangerous they wouldn't tell me to continue to test it>

 

And he's not alone... Gabriel Katzer stopped relying on his well two years ago

<gabriel katzer, resident - i occassionally go to the wellness center to take my showers instead of using it here, which is in Macon>

 

<standup - some residents are afraid to use their well water so they spend $50 to $60 a month on cases of bottled water to drink, cook, and clean>

 

The County's solution was to buy and renovate Plant Camelia ... a water treatment plant in Juliette. That was five years ago.

<(so you spent $750,000 to buy it, but the county won't put more money into it to have it run?) it comes down to the voting members of the board and what they decide. The commission has used water money more so to get votes than deliver the services that we needed to deliver to the citizens>

 

Monroe County Commission Chairman .... Mike Bilderback has been a strong advocate for clean water in Juliette.

<our board has failed them in the past. We had the money to renovate the plant, but we redirected those plans to other areas>

 

Plant Camelia is now so outdated that Bilderback reasons the next step should be to build a new plant. Though some residents are tired of waiting ...

<everybody needs a clean source of drinking water >

 

Elrod has depended on his well for 14 years ... and hopes to one day use county water.

 

Judy Le 13wmaz eyewitness news 

The county got a grant a month ago to run water lines down pea ridge road ... Up taylor road to highway 87 and christian road.

      Thanks to 300- thousand dollars from the city's Special Option Sales Tax... Officers with the Warner Robins Police Department welcomed new cars to their fleet today.

     Jennifer Moulliet shows you what makes the eleven new cars stand out.

     The new cars will be put into service this week.

Maureen Chandler got the surprise of her life when she found an escaped inmate in her yard.

Elise Brown has the story.

<just bought the house and my first night in here and that was my welcoming home gift I guess.  >

 

The gift was an escaped inmate hiding in her basement.

Around 7:30 p.m Wednesday night.....Police Chief Wesley Cannon says inmate Jonathan Pettigrew was being taken from the Peach County jail....to the Byron police station...to have his fingerprints re-taken.

 

<the officer arrived here at the scene...he opened his rear door to get Mr. Pettigrew out. I believe Mr. Pettigrew pushed the officer as he come out of the door.>

 

The inmate...handcuffed and wearing sandals...ran to the woods behind the police station.

Police surrounded the woods....and alerted the community via automated phone calls.

Chandler knew something was wrong when she saw helicopters flying low.

 

<I could tell they were looking for somebody so it wasn't very long after that the law officials came to the door and they told me somebody had escaped.>

 

Chandler says police checked her basement but didn't find anything.

But later on...while she was outside with her German shepherd....Luka...things changed.

<I heard some limbs breaking like somebody was walking around in the yard so I kind of looked toward my backyard, my dog wanted to take off and I was holding him back and right as I looked  up I saw the guy in the orange jump suit >

 

Chandler yelled out...to alert police who were nearby.

<they came up and I told them he was in the backyard. So they went running back there to find him. They were gonna come back towards the front of the yard and I said no he never passed on the other side of the house. He's got to be in my basement. >

 

And that's where they found him.

 

<I owe my thanks to my dog really, he's my protector.>

 

Elise Brown, 13WMAZ Eyewitness News.

Pettigrew is from Milledgville...and he was originally charged with stealing several checks from a Peach County woman.

He is scheduled to make a first appearance before a magistrate judge tomorrow morning.

 

 

     Campaign disclosure reports show that Mayor Robert Reichert's campaign has more than 92 thousand dollars in the bank...more than his closest rival.

 

      According to reports filed with the state Ethics Commission.. Reichert received just over $165 thousand in campaign contributions through June 30. He spent almost $65 thousand.. And has more than $100 thousand remaining.

     His closet rival.. Commission Chairman Sam Hart received about $36 and a half thousand dollars.. Spent $28 and a half thousand.. And has close to $8 thousand on hand..

     Former Commission Chairman Charlie Bishop got more than $14 thousand in contributions.. Spent a little over $9 thousand... And has just under $5 thousand left in the bank.

     Commissioner Joe Allen got about $6 thousand, 800.. And has 504 left from that.

     Perennial candidate David Cousino received $3 thousand.. Spent it all on his qualifying fee... He has nothing left..

     Mayoral candidates C. Jack Ellis and Anthony Harris haven't filed disclosure reports. They meet in the September 17 non-partisan election.. The winner becomes the first mayor of the consolidated Macon-Bibb government.

     Rand McNally... Good Sam... and Geocaching  want to find the "best of the road" and macon needs your help to be voted... as one of the best small towns in America.

     There are six categories to choose from... Most Beautiful... Most fun... Most patriotic.... Friendliest... The best food and best for geocaching... Which is a game played using gps on your smartphone.

     Macon Mayor Robert Reichert says he knows what category best fits the city.

<the friendliest, absolutely we are the friendliest place you know every where people remark about just how friendly a town Macon is.>

     You can vote as much as you want from now until the third of September.

     To participate... Visit the web site you see there on the screen...we'll put that online for you too.

     Then... leave a post stating why Macon is great.

     The winner will be announced on October 7th.

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