Deputies cornered Phillip Pope, 27, on Jan. 16 inside the garage of Econo Auto Painting and Body Works on Deans Bridge Road, where Pope was pulling stereos out of cars. Assistant District Attorney Rex Myers said in court that Richmond County sheriff’s Deputy Austin Shepherd fired two shots at Pope when he charged at the deputy with a crowbar.
“I really am sorry for it,” Pope told Superior Court Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet. “I want to make this right.”
Pope made an open plea, leaving it up to the judge to decide his sentence for burglary and a charge reduced from aggravated assault to terrorist threats. Overstreet gave him four years in prison and four years’ probation.
Pope’s attorney, Maureen Floyd, described for Overstreet how one bullet hit Pope in the arm and the other broke his ribs and lodged in his spine. Pope was taken to the hospital for emergency surgery, and his heart stopped beating twice during surgery. Pope said he had a vision of his grandmother standing in a field calling his name, but he couldn’t reach her.
Pope said the experience changed him completely, and the family surrounding him vouched that Pope had found a new set of friends and way of life. One of the bullets is still inside him, and Pope’s father said Pope is sometimes bedridden because of the pain.
Overstreet made no comments beyond setting the sentence.