Judge Rules East Dublin Shooting Justified

6:14 PM, Sep 8, 2011   |    comments
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A Laurens County magistrate judge ruled Thursday afternoon that a July 2010 fatal shooting by a police officer was justified.

Judge Donald Gillis declined to issue a warrant against East Dublin police office Jeffery Deal for killing Melvin Williams.

Gillis cited police-cruiser dashboard video that seemed to show Williams as the aggressor before he was shot and killed.

Earlier Thursday, he heard recorded statements from two witnesses to the shooting, who said they saw Williams attack the officer and try to take his gun.

He said Deal's lack of arrest powers was not a factor in his decision.

Gillis ruled around 6:45 p.m., after a hearing that lasted for more than five hours in the Laurens County courthouse.

Williams' family stood and left the courtroom while Gillis was still announcing his ruling. District Attorney Craig Fraser and East Dublin police chief William Leutke also left without comment.

Deal shot and killed Williams in July 2010, but GBI records show that the officer lacked arrest powers. Williams family argues that he had no authority to stop and shoot Williams, calling that "false imprisonment."

Today's hearing started around 1 p.m., with lawyers for both sides watching a police dashboard video of the shooting.


Then, a lawyer for the Williams family questioned Leutke -- who, according to the GBI, also lacked arrest powers, because he failed to get the required training.

He was asked when he realized that almost his entire department lacked arrest powers, and he said, "At this time, it was brought to my attention," but he did not explain.

Williams' family also argues that the dashboard video of the shooting contradicts Deal's account of the arrest, that the traffic stop was not warranted, and that East Dublin's department lacked any training or policy on the use of deadly force.

Leutke said he did not investigate the shooting, which was turned over immediately to the GBI.

He says he comforted Deal at the shooting scene because he was "upset."

Later, Judge Donald Gillis heard from GBI investigator Jerry Jones, who discussed the shooting investigation. In answer to a question from the Williams family's lawyer, he said a crack pipe was found on the passenger seat of the cruiser that Deal was driving.


He said Deal didn't know where the crack pipe came from and said it wasn't his normal cruiser.

Later, the judge heard recorded statements from two witnesses to the shooting, who said they saw Williams attack the officer and try to take his gun.


Lawyers in both sides completed closing arguments after 6 p.m.

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