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GBI probes Iraq vet killed in Ga. SWAT shootout

Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012 7:31 AM
Last updated 7:07 PM
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 BAXLEY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is probing the weekend shooting death of an Iraq war veteran in an armed standoff in south Georgia’s Appling County.

James M. Dixon III, a former Marine and veteran of Iraq who was shot to death by a Georgia State Patrol SWAT team Sunday morning.   FAMILY PHOTO/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
FAMILY PHOTO/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
James M. Dixon III, a former Marine and veteran of Iraq who was shot to death by a Georgia State Patrol SWAT team Sunday morning.


Neighbors of James M. Dixon III, 31, called the Sheriff’s Office about 3:50 a.m. Sunday to say someone had fired a shot through their house, Sheriff Bennie DeLoach said in a news statement.

Deputies went to Dixon’s house but decided for safety reasons to wait until daylight before confronting whoever fired the shot, DeLoach said.

As they waited, Dixon left the house and drove to his parents’ house about a half mile away on Holland Road Extension, Chief Deputy Lee J. Sweat Jr. said.

Deputies were not in position to stop Dixon but tried to stop him as he came back home, Sweat said.

“When he returned, he ran through a (partial) roadblock and we pursued him,’’ but Dixon made it back into his house, Sweat said.

The Georgia State Patrol SWAT team came to the scene and took over, and Dixon came outside the house just before 9 a.m. armed with a shotgun, DeLoach said.

When Dixon refused orders to put down the weapon, the SWAT team fired on him hitting him twice, Sweat said.

Dixon was taken to Appling HealthCare where he was pronounced dead on arrival, DeLoach said.

Dixon had served several tours in Iraq and had friends among the Appling County deputies, Sweat said.

“It’s a regrettable situation,’’ Sweat said.

Dixon’s older sister, Serran Aaron, said her brother suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and was 100 percent disabled.

“He had a heart of gold. He would do anything for anybody,’’ she said.

After high school, her brother had enrolled at Georgia Southern University, earned a business administration degree, Aaron said.

“He graduated summa cum laude. He came home and told us he was signing up with the Marines. I was devastated, but he had talked about it since he was a child. He felt it was his duty to serve his country,’’ she said.

That duty took a toll changing him dramatically after three tours in Iraq and being wounded, she said.

Someone in the neighborhood had fired hundreds of shots Saturday “and I believe that unnerved him,’’ Aaron said.

Aaron said she got a call from her mother at 5:30 a.m. Sunday asking her to come quickly and she drove there to find her brother was having a flashback as he had once before since his discharge.

“He would really think he was in Iraq. He would say, ‘They’re coming. Don’t you hear them outside? Get down,’ ’’ Aaron said.

She also said that being confronted by the huge number of officers made her brother more apprehensive if anything.

While the officers were outside his house, Aaron said she was in near constant cellphone contact with her brother, but that the 38 calls she made in a two-hour period often got dropped because they live in a rural area.

He told her once that he was putting his medals on, she said.

She had tried to talk him into coming outside without his shotgun, the only weapon he owned, but he responded as if he were in combat saying, “I can’t go out there unarmed,’’ she said.

An Appling County deputy was taking her to the scene, but she wasn’t allowed to get close enough to talk to him, Aaron said.

She saw her brother outside the house with his gun down and was yelling hoping he could hear her, Aaron said.

Then an officer ordered her onto the ground, and then she heard the shots, Aaron said.

Aaron said she is talking to anyone who will listen because it is clear that law enforcement is trained to deal with criminals, not people like her brother.

Asked what kinds of medals her brother had, Aaron said she only recognized his Purple Heart among the many blooded ribbons and medals she was given Monday.

Meanwhile, the Marines are mourning with the Dixon family and supporting them, she said.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Memorial Freewill Baptist Church in Surrency, she said.

The GBI’s Douglas office, which is investigating the shooting, would not comment.

Reach terry.dickson@jacksonville.com, (912) 264-0405

Comments (35) Add comment
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TParty
6004
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TParty 02/22/12 - 08:44 am
2
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It's shame this story has not

It's shame this story has not made national news.

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 02/22/12 - 09:33 am
3
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expect many more like this.
Unpublished

expect many more like this. we should all be ashamed.

resident
501
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resident 02/22/12 - 10:52 am
3
1
What makes it more of a

What makes it more of a tragedy is she tried to tell the hard headed officers the situation and instead of letting her help they kept her away. They could have even had a psycologist from the VA there probably in the time they decided to road block and other things. I know this is very much real and should be made very public. Hardened law enforcement need to understand that military members from any war can snap and should think about that and use their training properly. We lost another great patriot and I salute him. The officers need some serious training on situational control.

KSL
144846
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KSL 02/22/12 - 11:06 am
2
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More likely their superiors

More likely their superiors need the training.

runsalone
0
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runsalone 02/22/12 - 03:23 pm
1
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Don't worry tparty and

Don't worry tparty and everyone else who thinks there is a need for everyone in this country to know about this terrible event that has taken place. It needs to be brought to the American public's attention and it needs to be addressed NOW. I have notified all of the top news affiliates and made them aware of what has happened to James Dixon, one of our decorated war veterans and now we'll see what they do with the information. Hopefully they won't let James and the rest of America down. God Bless You James, Thank You Sir and May You Rest In Peace

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 02/22/12 - 09:09 pm
1
2
The country failed this

The country failed this Marine by not having proper procedures in place for release and counseling as needed to help solve the problems. His family failed him by allowing him to continue to have access to weapons even after being fully aware of his problems.

However, the police did their job as they are trained to do and went home alive as they should. Furthermore, they protected his sister as is also their job but at the same time allowed for communications to the best of their community. You can easily sit behind a screen and judge the actions of law enforcement even when you are clueless - The CSRA just recently lost a deputy from this same type of situation. If you are armed in front of police and you fail to drop the weapon as ordered, they have very few choices in the matter. They can't leave the situation, they can't send in family members or others to be killed and you can't request that they allow the person to shoot them prior to shooting back. Your anger is wrongly placed by blaming the police in any way, shape or form.

Sad, yes, very. But, the problems were known LONG before the police had to get involved and from the article they tried to talk with him, they tried to allow family to talk with him, they did their job to the best of their ability and exactly as they are trained to do - when you fail to put down a weapon (any weapon) at the direction of a police officer, they are 100% justified in the use of deadly force and that is what they are trained to do. Police have families they would like to go home to every day as well and they did not sign up to be shot at prior to shooting.

KSL
144846
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KSL 02/22/12 - 09:25 pm
2
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I agree with what you say.

I agree with what you say. But it seems that they had ample time to call in mental health help and didn't do it.

cytoranger
6
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cytoranger 02/22/12 - 10:45 pm
0
0
When are we as a society

When are we as a society going to realize repeated true combat tours are causing true warriors to.come home broken and.lost. in my family I have a.little brother headed for his sixth tour of combat, this time Afghanistan. I.have a son in law who.bass.two tours in Iraq. During his last tour his never before seen 10 week old son passed away due to proven neglegent.ccare at ddeamc. I have a nephew who was blown out of a humvee and shot in ghost valley Afghanistan and is still waiting a decision on med boards for head. Trauma. This is not the same army my dad and I were in where soliders were taken care of. He suffered PTSD after nam and never talked.about it. Agent Orange and the.pill mill at ft. Gordon ate his life away. When are we going to care for those who.stand the wall so we sleep soundly at night and stop throwing them away and allowing situations like this occur. I know the world is full of takers but I personally know 3 who suffer and continue to.serve. God bless the Best and Richardson family of Columbia county

KSL
144846
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KSL 02/22/12 - 11:09 pm
0
0
Daughter of ww2 vet. Didn't

Daughter of ww2 vet. Didn't know of but a few vets who suffered from it. But that was a war fought with pretty clear battle lines. Threats we have fought of late have no clear battle lines and they have Bern fought with hands tied. No collateral damage? We are just too forgiving of people who won't rise up and and defend themselves. Perhaps they are disarmed. Your freedom of choice goes away.

KSL
144846
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KSL 02/22/12 - 11:30 pm
0
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Ptsd is real. I have had a

Ptsd is real. I have had a mild experience with it here in just my normal life. It fortunely lasted for about a year and didn't happen that frequentl Discussion y. I am now beyond

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 02/22/12 - 11:42 pm
0
1
KSL, you may be right but

KSL, you may be right but then again, you are Monday morning quarterbacking at this point. Based on the above, all of this occurred in between 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours from when the first deputy would have arrived after the call for assistance. It probably took SWAT an hour or so to get to this area and we are talking about 4am. I don't know if they called for any other type of negotiator or not or a mental health person, etc. but either way, most of that would have had to been with him on a cell phone, etc. - The police don't have the liberty of placing others in harm’s way. They did allow for family to try and help to solve the problem and I am sure the investigation will show if there was more that could have been done. The problem is that no matter what the police do or don't do or no matter how they re-act to situations there is always someone with little to no training in police procedures, etc. telling them how they could have done it better. Anyone who really thinks that a police supervisor or shooter wants to shoot someone in this situation or even have them shot isn't thinking clearly - they certainly prefer a peaceful resolution but when you present a firearm towards a LEO, they are trained to shoot to stop the threat.

As for our Veterans deserving far better service, I couldn't agree more. The same goes for our officers here at home dealing with constant negativity, harassment, being shot at, seeing their fellow officers die in the line of duty, etc. with little or no support - probably why so many LEO's are divorced, have trust issues, health issues and commit suicide.

The best estimate of suicide in the law enforcement profession is 18.1 per 100,000 which is 52% greater than that of the general population. These and many other officers already second guess theirselves often because of comments and opinions on boards such as this and in general from the media. This also has other officers second guess or hesitate in situations which often is the reason they are shot or killed. The stress that they are going through for simply doing the job they were called to do that day is bad enough without adding insult to injury. At the very least, the investigation should take place prior to anyone laying any blame towards the police.

KSL
144846
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KSL 02/22/12 - 11:54 pm
0
0
I know, a. But for some

I know, a. But for some reason I thought there was a longer time involved from the article. Shooting a known disturbed person versus not taking out a truly known criminal, murderer id quite bothersome.

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 02/23/12 - 12:12 am
0
1
KSL, I do agree with you and

KSL, I do agree with you and it is bothersome, just as I am sure it bothers the officers. And, in theory, you are certainly correct. This is why the questions in cases such as this should be why didn't the individual get help when needed and/or why did the individual have access to firearms?

In reality, officers rarely have the liberty to distinguish between the two, especially when a weapon is involved. A gun in the hand of a disturbed individual confronting the police is no different than one in the hand of a young person, preacher, female, or a non-mentally disturbed individual - any of them can easily pull the trigger taking the life of an officer or anyone else in the vicinity. Officers are provided very limited options in these situations and simply rely on what they are trained to do which is make difficult split second decisions based on what they are presented with at the time. It sounds as if they used restraint multiple times throughout the ordeal but were forced at one point to use force.

runsalone
0
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runsalone 02/23/12 - 03:59 am
3
1
Asitisinaug, Why do I get a

Asitisinaug, Why do I get a distinct feeling that you are involved in law enforcement? I happen to know these people, and this young man never once raised any weapon in an effort to point it at anyone, including any law enforcement people. He simply exited the house holding it at his side. If you are, in fact in law enforcement, you know as well as I that he could have been subdued without the very calculated and fatal neck shot that was taken by the sharpshooter on the SWAT team. I don't care what you say to try and justify this miscarriage of deadly force, you are wrong and they were wrong. When is it that we started condoning the blatant KILLING of people just because we feel they MIGHT be a threat to
someone. I'm offended by your attempt at rationalizing the murder of this decorated war veteran who cried out for help and obviously didn't get it from the Country and People he fought a war to protect.

CobaltGeorge
177165
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CobaltGeorge 02/23/12 - 05:14 am
0
0
Good Morning America. I have

Good Morning America.

I have to agree with both KSL and Asitisinaug on their comments, but these published sentence by AC on this issues really raises doubt in my mind...
" When Dixon refused orders to put down the weapon, the SWAT team fired on him hitting him twice, Sweat said."
and this sentence....
"She saw her brother outside the house with his gun down and was yelling hoping he could hear her, Aaron said."
and this comment (If True)made by runsalone...
"you know as well as I that he could have been subdued without the very calculated and fatal neck shot that was taken by the sharpshooter on the SWAT team."
Any sharpshooter on a SWAT team can place a round in a 50 cent piece at 200 feet. Two rounds fired and a neck shot I believe is not an accurate decision to have been made. Wrong trigger pull that could have been prevented in the lost of this Veteran.
This is based only on what has been reported and a comment on the neck shot. I was not there..............

CobaltGeorge
177165
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CobaltGeorge 02/23/12 - 05:22 am
3
0
All I'm saying is, the weapon

All I'm saying is, the weapon could have been removed without using a fatal shot. Maybe this SWAT member needs more practice on a range or is over zealous.......

CobaltGeorge
177165
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CobaltGeorge 02/23/12 - 05:31 am
0
1
Asitisinaug "The CSRA just

Asitisinaug

"The CSRA just recently lost a deputy from this same type of situation."

These are two difference situations.....one being shot at - and one not shooting with a shot gun at his side.

The rest of all your comments are very true and I support them.

seenitB4
98723
Points
seenitB4 02/23/12 - 05:33 am
1
0
A good shot could have taken

A good shot could have taken the gun out of play...right Cgee..

cytoranger
6
Points
cytoranger 02/23/12 - 06:35 am
0
0
While I understand Leo s

While I understand Leo s persepctive with 2 nephews.in LE, I also understand.PTSD. I have suffered with it after finding my grandson dead in his crib. small things take.you back to those horrific moments I your life. most.soldiers feel there is a stigema associated with it and won't tell and ignore or try to drink it away.2 sides toevery coin folks. I can't judge.the moment but am sadsenes by the results. I've had.to talk my.ittle Bro.through it a.few.times. these.warriors.get.very.confused about.reality

cozzster
50
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cozzster 02/23/12 - 06:49 am
0
0
I agree with "asitisinaug."
Unpublished

I agree with "asitisinaug." I am not in LE, but actually in the military myself. I know a lot of ppl with PTSD and a lot of those ppl don't want to get help. If you want to get help and you are denied then you can't give up just figuring no one will help you. If you really want help, you will get it. I agree combat will mess you up, but the blame cannot be placed on someone else. You are responsible for yourself. If you need help, get it.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 02/23/12 - 07:35 am
0
0
Many members of SWAT teams

Many members of SWAT teams and police forces are themselves combat veterans who learned their tactics in the military. This is far from an isolated incident. Anyone old enough to remember the Vietnam war should be aware of traumatized veterans. The wave of combat veterans suffering from PTSD (which some uninformed individuals still do not consider a real psychological disorder) was predictable from Day One of our current protracted wars. Ignoring veterans' needs goes back at least to the Civil War when the symptoms of PTSD were first described. Ignoring veterans' needs has been the rule rather than the exception. WWI veterans, those suffering from "shell shock" as well as those not affected, were shabbily treated as far as benefits goes. Only the GI bill after WWII stands out as truly exemplary, but numerous individuals suffered "combat fatigue" in silence and isolation nonetheless. Victims of Agent Orange poisoning during the Vietnam war did not receive prompt or adequate treatment. The wounded from America's current wars of choice is a big factor in why ongoing costs of these wars over the next 50 or more years will exceed $3 trillion and may reach as much as $7 trillion. With Iraq falling apart and the U.S. war in Afghanistan doomed, the United States should rethink its militarized foreign policy. Even a stone cold hearted cost-benefit analysis would show the fiscal costs are not worth the supposed benefits. The human costs are incalculable.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 02/23/12 - 07:42 am
2
0
Traumatized veterans,

Traumatized veterans, including those most unable negotiate the maze, are forced to fight the VA bureaucracy in order to get their benefits, medical or otherwise. There is no excuse for this. Plenty of "defense" related industries including private contracting firms have made beau coup money from America's ongoing wars. Regardless of political outlook, we fail as a country if we do not provide adequate care for returning veterans regardless of costs and even if we are broke.

Asitisinaug
4
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Asitisinaug 02/23/12 - 01:36 pm
0
1
Runsalone, unless you were

Runsalone, unless you were there as a witness, you are not able to say that he never raised the weapon. I will give the benefit of the doubt pending the investigation by the GBI to the highly trained individuals on the scene. Furthermore, the article never says that a sharpshooter or sniper took the shot. Officers do not have to wait (nor should they) to be shot at prior to making a decision to end a situation with an armed individual no matter who the individual is. Just recently an ICE agent had to shoot a fellow ICE agent in the office taking his life due to his actions and in CA last month, fellow officers had to shoot and kill a fellow officer at a road check. Armed individuals displaying a firearm can decide to shoot at any second and often by the time an officer returns fire or begins to shoot; it is too late for the officer. Their job is simply to end the threat and go home alive. As a friend of the family in this situation, you will clearly have one view that will not be changed but if you were the wife of a LEO who has dealt with this type of situation before and you had almost lost them more than once, your thought process would be very different.

By your own admission, you know these individuals and therefore your opinion is biased and based on emotions instead of information. I am deeply sorry for their loss and the loss of anyone who is mentally disturbed but don't put the blame on those called to situations with armed individuals. The Marines/Government could have potentially done more to have prevented this and the family also could have done more to have prevented this to include ensuring no weapons were accessible to him.

Colbalt, you are correct that the situations were completely different. My comment was related to the fact that they were both veterans and the families of both have stated they were disturbed individuals due to their service. My point is that LEO's don't have the pleasure to address those issues when dealing with armed individuals failing to obey lawful commands.

runsalone
0
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runsalone 02/24/12 - 12:30 am
1
0
Well Asitisinaug, you still

Well Asitisinaug, you still have not come forward and admitted that you are in fact a part of LE, or most likely a LEO. I really don't care what the circumstances you want to assume, the shot that was taken by the member of the SWAT team was in fact a KILL shot. You know it, I know it, and everyone else knows it. It was taken by a trained sharpshooter who knew exactly what he was doing when he pulled the trigger. It was in no way a shot to incapacitate the veteran so he could be subdued and taken for the help he needed, it was with full intent to KILL him. Just because someone gives you people a badge and a gun, does not by any means give you the right to shoot to kill everyone who doesn't immediately obey your commands. There used to be such a thing as Rules Of Engagement. Now it seems the rule has become Shoot To Kill and let's all go home. You, yourself, seem to be of exactly that mentality. The bare fact of the whole incident is that the only shots fired were the ones that Killed a disturbed war verteran who put his life on the line over and over again for the same two gunmen who shot and killed him. It's not only sad, it's terrible and it scares the hell out of me that you and many other LEO feel that they have the same RIGHT to take someones life when they feel threatened. It's a very scary country we are living in today.

runsalone
0
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runsalone 02/24/12 - 12:36 am
1
0
Just so you and everyone else

Just so you and everyone else involved in this horrible incident knows, I have been in touch with the Veterans Administration and gave them a full accounting of what has transpired and requested that they too instigate a full investigation in to the killing of this decorated veteran in addition to the one being done by GBI. They assured me that they will be taking a very active role in getting to the bottom of this tragedy.

Paul H
0
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Paul H 02/24/12 - 12:03 pm
2
0
Asitisinauq, I have spoken to

Asitisinauq, I have spoken to the family (that was on site ), they stated he NEVER raise the weapon. A swat member did take the shot. A shot in the neck, REALLY? You and I both know he (swat ) could have chosen another location for the shot, but chose not to. This young man could have been disabled or a shot could have been made on the weapon. The swat member chose not to. This was a sensless killing. Yes swat chose to kill this man, when a different path could have been taken. So swat needs to be held accountable for the death of this man....but just like most of what you law enforcement officers do for each other....this will be covered up and nothing will be done. How dare you emply that this man deserved what he got for not laying down his weapon. This man needed help and never got the chance, thanks to that swat member who thinks he is God.

Paul H
0
Points
Paul H 02/24/12 - 12:39 pm
2
0
Asi, Obviously you dont

Asi, Obviously you dont understand and you are close minded. Yes this man deserved to be shot to comply. But he did not deserve to die. With a 223 or 5.56, I can shot a quarter at a two hundred yards. Swat should be able to do the same. He chose a neck shot. The torso is quite larger than the neck. I do not think he was aiming at the torso. By the way, I have spoken to several witnesses that were on the scene, so I do have the facts. Please do not emply I do not know what I am talking about.
I agree, the man should not on a gun if he is mentally unstable because of PTSD.
His sister tried to talk to him, 38 times, but the phone calls keeped being dropped because of terrible cell phone signal. Then the officers would not let her speak to him in person or on a speaker.
I have personally seen things covered up because it is what officers do, and I am quite sure you have seen it too.

Little Lamb
49260
Points
Little Lamb 02/24/12 - 12:56 pm
1
0
Reporter Terry Dickson

Reporter Terry Dickson wrote:

BAXLEY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is probing the weekend shooting death of an Iraq war veteran in an armed standoff in south Georgia’s Appling County.

This is, of course, the same GBI who investigated a post-game brawl in Hancock County and couldn't find anything wrong.

CobaltGeorge
177165
Points
CobaltGeorge 02/24/12 - 01:00 pm
1
0
"Asi, Obviously you don't

"Asi, Obviously you don't understand and you are close minded. Yes this man deserved to be shot to comply. But he did not deserve to die."

There is the key to the whole debate.....and I can guarantee the
SWAT member was within 200 feet...not 200 yards. As I stated before, A Very Bad Trigger Pull. Period

runsalone
0
Points
runsalone 02/24/12 - 04:18 pm
1
0
Everyone needs to inform your

Everyone needs to inform your senators and reps. about this matter, as well as the governor of Ga.. Let them know what has happened and demand that they oversee the GBI investigation as well as contacting the Ga. Governor. Write letters and send emails. Post this all over facebook. Make sure everyone in the country and every elected official knows that this young decorated veteran was murdered in cold blood by a Ga. St. SWAT team sharpshooter. Don't let this get swept under the rug. Demand action.

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