A Richmond County deputy fatally shot a knife-wielding man Friday morning, an action that Sheriff Richard Roundtree said appeared to be justified.
“We have no evidence supporting the idea that any wrongdoing was done (by the officer),” Roundtree said at an afternoon news conference. “We believe the deadly force policy was followed.”
According to authorities, Deputy Michael J. Woodard killed Chaz Devell Williams, 21, after confronting him in a residence at Fox Den Apartments in the 3200 block of Wrightsboro Road. Deputies said they had been looking for Williams for about two hours after he had driven away from a police traffic stop, wrecked his car and fled.
Pat Morgan, the special agent in charge for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, said a deputy began pursuing Williams’ car around 2:20 a.m. after he failed to stop for unspecified traffic offenses. That pursuit ended near Church’s Chicken on Wrightsboro Road when the vehicle ran into a fence and its driver, believed to be Williams, ran away. More officers were called in, and a search eventually led them to Fox Den Apartments.
According to Morgan, a group of deputies entered Apartment 133 about 4 a.m. and tried to take Williams into custody.
“There were several weapons in the home,” Morgan said. “A knife was involved.”
Woodard, a five-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, fired more than one shot, killing the suspect, Morgan said.
Morgan would not elaborate on what led the officer to use his weapon or how the knife was involved. He said he was still interviewing witnesses, including two people who were at the residence at the time.
Roundtree said that, in general, police officers can use deadly force when they believe their lives or the life of another is in danger.
After the GBI concludes its investigation, the case will be handed over to the district attorney’s office.
Roundtree said there are no plans to suspend Woodard. He said the officer would be required to attend a session with a counselor before returning to work.
The Peace Officer Standards and Training Council requires that all officers complete deadly force training each year.
The dead man has a Richmond County arrest record, including a charge of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in Augusta 2011. The charge was reduced to possession of cocaine, and Williams was sentenced to three years’ probation.
Last August, Williams was arrested on charges of driving on a suspended/revoked license and having an expired tag.
An autopsy is scheduled this morning, Morgan said.