ATLANTA — A man accused of killing a Clayton County police officer last month had been released from prison in May.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that 41-year-old Tremaine Lebis had a 20-year history of trouble before Clayton County officer Sean Callahan answered a domestic disturbance call on Dec. 17. Callahan was fatally shot in the head, and then Lebis died in a shootout with police.
Lebis was convicted in 1992 of shooting his roommate in the back of the head after the two had broken into a car in Norcross. Before trial, records show he told a state psychologist that his father had committed suicide and that he tried to commit suicide at 18 by slitting his wrist. The psychologist diagnosed him with a “severe personality disorder” and said he had trouble controlling his anger.
He got a 20-year sentence for aggravated assault. Then a few years later, he got a four-year sentence tacked on for escape.
He got paroled in 2008. Less than three years later, he reported to police that an unknown assailant had shot him in the hand. Police discovered he had accidentally shot himself and charged him with being a felon in possession of a gun and filing a false police report. He agreed to a plea bargain for five years on probation and six months in jail, which he had already served after his arrest.
Lebis’ parole officer sent him back to prison for filing a false police report, and the state Board of Pardons and Paroles released him again in May.
Defense lawyer Lee Sexton, who once represented Lebis, said the light sentence and parole surprised him. “One would think, with the revocation of parole and the new charges, he would serve the entire term,” he said.
Assistant district attorney David Slemons, who handled the case, said Henry County prosecutors didn’t view the gun charge as warranting more time behind bars in part because Lebis hadn’t used the gun in a violent crime.
“How much time do you give somebody for shooting himself?” the prosecutor said. “If he had pointed it at somebody else, that is a prison case, but he didn’t.”
Parole board spokesman Steve Hayes said state law makes the reasons for a parole confidential.
Wayne Garner, a former parole board chairman and a former state corrections commissioner, said the board often paroles inmates in hopes that a supervised release will allow them to integrate back into society more successfully than being released at the end of a sentence without supervision.
“It seems to work better when you have a cushion of a few years to work with him,” he said.