GBI release report on fatal police shootout

Saturday, March 30, 2013 3:54 PM
Last updated 9:55 PM
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WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — A standoff between police and a middle Georgia corrections officer whose wife said he was threatening her with a gun ended in a deadly exchange of 24 gunshots that left the suspect dead on his front porch, according to a Georgia Bureau of Investigation report on the shootout.

The GBI concluded 50-year-old Tony Rawls fired eight times at approaching officers after one of them shoved him against a window after seeing that he was armed. Five police officers who responded to an emergency call from Rawls’ wife in Warner Robins earlier this month fired 16 rounds total, The Telegraph of Macon reported Saturday .

The newspaper said it obtained the GBI’s synopsis report of the March 10 gun battle under the Georgia Open Records Act. It also received recordings of 911 calls from the standoff.

The calls show Michelle Rawls, the slain suspect’s wife, called police about 15 minutes before the shootout. Though Rawls can be heard several times denying that he has a gun, his wife warns operators that he is threatening to shoot her if police come in their yard.

A man on the 911 recording can be heard saying to the wife: “When they pull up, you ain’t never seeing nothing else.”

Tony Rawls also denied he was holding his wife against her will. When an operator told him that he needed to talk with officers after walking off his porch with both hands in the air, he refused and insisted he’d done nothing wrong. He also complained the incident was going to cost him his job as lieutenant with the Department of Corrections at Macon State Prison.

Warner Robins police Lt. Don Edwards told the GBI that as officers approached the house he saw Tony Rawls raising a gun. Edwards said he slammed Rawls into a window with his rifle, so the suspect couldn’t shoot his wife. As the men separated, Rawls started shooting the officer returned fire, according to the GBI report.

Shots can be heard on the 911 recording as Rawl’s wife begins screaming and then cries: “They killed my husband. Oh, God.”

She said she was holding her husband’s hand, trying to keep him from shooting her, when she felt it go limp.

The GBI said the dispute between Rawls and his wife started after he read text messages on her cellphone and became angry. The report says Michelle Rawls later told authorities she was having an affair.

The slain man’s brother, Earl Rawls, told the GBI he’s concerned that police didn’t try to negotiate with his brother, according to the report.

Houston County District Attorney George Hartwig in a letter released Thursday concluded police were justified in shooting Tony Rawls. He said he felt officers had no choice but to use deadly force.

The officers involved in the standoff have returned to work after being released from administrative leave. An internal review is still under way and authorities said the GBI’s final report is not complete.


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