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Richmond Co. | Columbia Co. | Aiken Co. |

Richmond County Sheriff's Office has identified GRU officer in shooting

Monday, Feb. 24, 2014 12:38 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 1:09 AM
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The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has identified Wesley William Martin, 30, as the Georgia Regents University police officer who shot at a 19-year-old while responding to a noise complaint at a school housing complex Saturday morning.

According to a sheriff’s incident report, Officers Cynthia Perkins and Robert Donohue responded to University Village Apartments for the noise complaint just before 1 a.m. and found the disturbance in Room 2307.

In the apartment, police found Donte Lavelle Stewart, of Hephzibah, who gave police a false name and then ran from the building to his 1998 Ford Taurus.

Martin, who had already parked his patrol vehicle to block the apartment’s exit, told sheriff’s officials he positioned himself in front of the suspect’s speeding vehicle in an attempt to get it to stop. According to the report, Martin said Stewart slowed his vehicle, observed him to be law enforcement and then accelerated.

Martin, who said he was unable to retreat because of the position of his police cruiser, fired several times at the vehicle, which crashed into a tree. The suspect, who was hit in the hand and mouth with what the report described as “projectiles,” left the vehicle and ran through the woods to Tindon Street and Damascus Road, where he was captured by police.

Stewart faces charges of aggravated assault on an officer.

The sheriff’s office was called in to assist with the shooting investigation because it involved a GRU officer. GRU officials said Martin has been placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.

Martin’s actions have come under scrutiny in the past.

During a March 2012 traffic stop he used a stun gun on the driver, who then rolled up his window, Martin testified, trapping the policeman’s hand and causing him to shock himself.

The driver, Fredrick Gibbons, told a jury in July 2013 that he had immediately called Richmond County dispatchers when he saw Martin, with whom he had an altercation 18 months earlier, approaching his vehicle during the traffic stop. Gibbons said Martin told him to hang up the phone and open the door before he stunned him through the open window.

In July 2013, Gibbons was acquitted of obstruction charges after rejecting an offer on a lesser charge.

According to testimony at his trial, Gibbons was shocked at least five times during the traffic stop, and his attorney, Victor Hawk, told the jury that Martin had used his stun gun at least 24 times in his 2 1/2 years as a GRU policeman.

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Little Lamb
43990
Points
Little Lamb 02/24/14 - 02:26 pm
8
0
Escalation

Uh, oh. The same officer who was too quick to tase is now on the hot seat. Why not just quietly fire him?

foxsilong
546
Points
foxsilong 02/24/14 - 02:44 pm
1
9
scrutiny?

I'm pretty sure it's not a tea party they were having....there were probably alcohol and maybe drugs involved. I don't think Donte was going to go far with his car even if the policy hadn't shot him.

Scrutiny of the officer in the past? How about University Village? University Village is known for blown out parties like that. Punishing the police doesn't mean the problem is solved.

Skooter
64
Points
Skooter 02/24/14 - 02:51 pm
6
4
Is it policy that police block ambulance & fire truck pathways?

If somebody elects to stand in the road where vehicles travel should not also give them license to shoot someone in the face. I shot to a tire would've accomplished the same affect of getting loud college students to halt.

nocnoc
38708
Points
nocnoc 02/24/14 - 03:44 pm
5
1
Strike 3 for Capt Taser.

It initially appears this officer maybe the 1%
that gives the 99% of LEO's a bad name.

I would feel more comfortable with the investigation,
if the GBI did the shooting review, instead of RCSO.
Just On the remote chance it is ruled a Good Shoot.
The extra separation, would avoid any appearance of local LEO's covering local Leo's.

Personally, I expect some will be singing
"Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye"
one way or the other in the future.

nocnoc
38708
Points
nocnoc 02/24/14 - 03:48 pm
5
2
BTW: a slight spacing issues

to avoid a quick mis-read
"24 times in his 2 (add space)1/2 years as a GRU policeman."
24 uses / 30 months is somewhat misleading.

I would like the current Taser figures but broken out
before the court case,
and after the court case.

specsta
6108
Points
specsta 02/24/14 - 03:49 pm
8
4
This Is Not A Movie

"Martin, who had already parked his patrol vehicle to block the apartment’s exit, told sheriff’s officials he positioned himself in front of the suspect’s speeding vehicle in an attempt to get it to stop."

Standing in front of a speeding vehicle? Hmmm. You know, there's a reason God gave us a brain - to use it.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 02/24/14 - 04:49 pm
7
2
LOL...

Looks like a bus ticket and a bologna sandwich for Mr. Tazer. Fire him! We don't need trigger happy cops on campus. This is the Gestapo mentality I've been referring to in previous posts. Why not just tell them to turn down the music and move on? Noooo, they have to go in and cause a scene, run everybodys name, check their "papers", block driveways and show their force. Same crappe the Nazis used to do. SEE YA, TAZER BOY!!!! lolol

fedex227
10776
Points
fedex227 02/24/14 - 04:55 pm
8
2
Six more tases ...

and I think he wins a free set of steak knives.

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 02/24/14 - 04:58 pm
5
2
At Least...

At Least 24 times....dang....Victor Hawk, told the jury that Martin had used his stun gun at least 24 times in his 2 1/2 years as a GRU policeman.
I think he's way past the set of steak knives by now....lol.

Sweet son
9716
Points
Sweet son 02/24/14 - 05:24 pm
6
0
Martin does seem to be a bit of a cowboy.

The whole department shouldn't be judged by this guy's actions. There are plenty of professional police officers who work for GRU.

A dismissal is probably in order but if nothing else Chief McBride should adjust this guy's attitude and put him on notice that any more headlines that might be construed as negative will cost him his job.

corgimom
28318
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 05:23 pm
4
13
There is NOTHING in this

There is NOTHING in this story to suggest that the officer is "trigger happy".

Using a stun gun 24 times means less than an average of once a month- and considering who he's dealing with, I wouldn't call that excessive.

Victor Hawk's job as a criminal defense attorney is to make the other side seem as bad as possible.

burninater
8943
Points
burninater 02/24/14 - 05:43 pm
6
3
Earlier, the story was that

Earlier, the story was that the suspect "nearly hit him".

Now he is suggesting that a car, speeding at and nearly hitting him, somehow avoided both him and an entire police cruiser?

Physics would suggest the man's not being forthright, or the "nearly hit" story is not quite true.

We need POV cameras on every police officer, and we need them now. If you are on the clock doing the public's business, you and your actions should be public record.

If you are doing your job competently, you have nothing to fear.

If you are behaving like more and more of the officers getting caught on tape (such as these http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2566315/WATCH-Cops-charged-falsi...) then you have no business doing the public's business.

The Mick
827
Points
The Mick 02/24/14 - 05:49 pm
6
1
Man God bless the men and

May God bless the men and women of law enforcement. Most of them are great civil servants. But, they are a cross section of society, and just like society they have their small percentage of idiots. Obviously Taser Martin gets a thrill out of playing with his weapons and flexing his badge! I am gonna go out on a limb here and bet high school was an awkward time for him. I am not defending fleeing law enforcement as this student did, but I think shooting him twice may have been a bit over the top.

fedex227
10776
Points
fedex227 02/24/14 - 07:44 pm
6
3
Not trigger happy?

"During a March 2012 traffic ... according to testimony at his trial, Gibbons was shocked (by officer Martin) at least five times during the traffic stop..."

I'd call that taser-mania.

Just wondering, does the five zaps to Mr. Gibbons count as one tase in the grand total? Like if you go to the express lane at Kroger with 10 cup-o-soups and it counts as one item?

corgimom
28318
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 06:45 pm
3
13
Navy Gary, you are the type

Navy Gary, you are the type of person that takes one fact and then extrapolates it to something that is totally unrelated.

So what if he used his stun gun 24 times? Does that mean that he doesn't have the right to shoot someone who is using his car as a deadly weapon?

Of course not, the two facts are totally unrelated.

Unless, of course, you don't believe that a police officer has the right to defend himself against harm or death. (Which, by the way, they absolutely do)

corgimom
28318
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 06:47 pm
2
13
I'm guessing that any police

I'm guessing that any police officer that has to patrol a college dormitory area has occasion to use a stun gun far more than, say, a police officer that patrols a senior citizens' complex. Or a residential area.

Cameron Poe
826
Points
Cameron Poe 02/24/14 - 07:56 pm
10
2
I'm also guessing that any

I'm also guessing that any police officer patrolling college apartments and living areas should have a pretty good idea of what he is getting into. While it may not be nursing homes it is still not the wild west.

And let's all be honest, scrutiny of University Village? Really? I think we all know what goes on in college dorms/apartments. And for the most part they are not situations that require any force.

As far as the amount of uses of the stun gun it certainly is relevant. It shows a pattern, and if that pattern is an outlier compared to other police in his same jurisdiction then that pattern paints a picture of an officer more willing to escalate a situation than diffuse it.

We all support the police and realize they are here to protect us while putting their lives on the line. But, like in any sample of society sometimes there are a few bad apples. That is why we have processes like what is taking place to eradicate those deemed to be problems.

IBeDogGone
2871
Points
IBeDogGone 02/24/14 - 08:25 pm
7
1
Education Needed

Maybe additional classes in hitting targets need to be offered. A seasoned officer that has this much taser practice should surely know when you shoot the real McCoy you aim for the tires. Maybe he was aiming for the vehicles tires and he is just a Damn Bad Shot. I do not think the public needs to be in jeopardy because his lack of skills and common sense!

gargoyle
13654
Points
gargoyle 02/24/14 - 09:43 pm
5
3
After the Tazermania incident

After the Tazermania incident why was he still employed. That begs the question about Mr. McBrides leadership and judgment .

itsanotherday1
40467
Points
itsanotherday1 02/24/14 - 10:51 pm
3
2
Dittos on that!

It is something I've been saying for a while.

"We need POV cameras on every police officer, and we need them now. If you are on the clock doing the public's business, you and your actions should be public record."

corgimom
28318
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 11:02 pm
3
9
"I'm also guessing that any

"I'm also guessing that any police officer patrolling college apartments and living areas should have a pretty good idea of what he is getting into. While it may not be nursing homes it is still not the wild west."

I disagree, there is a lot of trash that hangs out around those college apartments. Some are students, some aren't. It's become a major hangout for drug dealers.

I respect any police officer, it's a very tough job. It's also especially tough when people that couldn't be a police officer for 5 minutes seem to think that a police officer isn't doing the job properly- when they actually have no idea what the police officer encounters. It's not safe at those buildings.

And then there is the ridiculous notion that a police officer should just stand there when someone is trying to kill them. Any police officer anywhere has the right to defend their life if they reasonably think their life is in danger, the key word being if THEY think it, not somebody sitting at a keyboard.

And if somebody tried to run me down, yeah, I'd think my life was in danger, too. Anybody would.

corgimom
28318
Points
corgimom 02/24/14 - 11:05 pm
3
8
"As far as the amount of uses

"As far as the amount of uses of the stun gun it certainly is relevant. It shows a pattern, and if that pattern is an outlier compared to other police in his same jurisdiction then that pattern paints a picture of an officer more willing to escalate a situation than diffuse it."

No it doesn't, it doesn't matter if he uses his stun gun 24 or 2400 times, that has nothing to do with somebody trying to run him down.

I don't know, how do you diffuse somebody trying to run over you with a car?

How many people did he encounter in that 30 month period, that he used his stun gun? Hundreds? Thousands? Nothing in the story indicates that. How many encounters with subjects did he have? 30? 300? 3000? That makes a difference, too. Which is why you can't just take one fact and decide that the police officer is a bad cop.

gargoyle
13654
Points
gargoyle 02/25/14 - 12:02 am
4
3
His previous body of work.

His previous body of work. His resume if you will corgimom. Do a little research into his last high profile news paper write-up right here in the Chronicle, pay attention to the comments of Jurors in the case. Here is one of the people he came in contact with in the video below
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJpt1Qyxa-Y

Navy Gary
1615
Points
Navy Gary 02/25/14 - 01:36 am
4
2
Watch the video...

Watch the ^above^ video and you'll see what I mean. Free people shouldn't have to put up with this kind of treatment EVER. It's a joke and those who defend cops who treat citizens like this need to be pulled over by them repeatedly.
I don't need a roof to fall on my head to know, this guy will be trouble wherever he goes if allowed to stay in law enforcement.

avidreader
3005
Points
avidreader 02/25/14 - 06:25 am
3
0
DejaVu!

I'm really surprised Martin wasn't fired after the Gibbons' trial. In this current incident, why didn't he just run from the path of Stewart's car?

During the Gibbons trial, Victor Hawk referred to Martin as a "rogue cop". I believed Hawk. I was a juror on the trial.

This case is going to get sticky concerning Martin's past experiences, whether he was justified in firing his weapon or not.

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 02/25/14 - 06:51 am
2
3
" In this current incident,

" In this current incident, why didn't he just run from the path of Stewart's car? "

The article stated "Martin, who said he was unable to retreat because of the position of his police cruiser, fired several times at the vehicle, which crashed into a tree"

So it appears (according to the article) the officer parked his vehicle at the entrance to block anyone from leaving. He then positions himself in front of his vehicle (or rather at the side since it is blocking the roadway) and "According to the report, Martin said Stewart slowed his vehicle, observed him to be law enforcement and then accelerated." I'm only speculating but if I am standing between my cruiser and a vehicle who just accelerated at me, and I've got no where to go, what would be my next plan of action. I suppose this is where Martin pulled his weapon and fired at the vehicle.

Whether Martin is a "robo-cop" or not we seem to overlook the fact that the suspect sped up his vehicle and drove it in the direction of the officer. It's real easy to sit back and second guess every move that was made but Martin was the one actually living the situation. Was he right or wrong, that is for someone higher up to decide but it really bothers me when individuals on here seem to take such pride in degrading our men and women in law enforcement who serve and protect our community. In every line of profession you will have good and bad, lets try and not throw the good out while trying to weed out the bad.

InChristLove
22420
Points
InChristLove 02/25/14 - 06:54 am
1
2
"I don't call the cops. I can

"I don't call the cops. I can take care of things just fine as they arise. Surely, in one of you peoples trips through the eight grade, you should have learned that being obtuse and opinionated to the point of name calling is just not socially acceptable."

What's that old saying "the pot calling the kettle black"?

Little Old Lady
4513
Points
Little Old Lady 02/25/14 - 09:32 am
6
0
Training

LEOs today do not have the same level of training they had when Col. Nash was the Director of the Law Enforcement Training Center. When he trained them they were "street ready" and knew what and what not to do in any situation. Now they get academic "book learning" training and no real life situations. It is not fair to the officer nor the public when training is inadequate.

nocnoc
38708
Points
nocnoc 02/25/14 - 10:39 am
4
1
now there is a thought

cameras on the Leo's 1st, then citizens.

Like we are constantly told by government,
If you ain't doing wrong what's the problem?

Maybe while we are at it put cameras on BIG BROTHER
LEO's also?

bdouglas
4527
Points
bdouglas 02/25/14 - 11:26 am
3
0
Right or wrong in his

Right or wrong in his treatment of this situation, the officer's past might just come back to bite the state of GA in a lawsuit for pain and suffering by the perp. I wouldn't be surprised to see that turn up on the docket at some point, and the officer's past will certainly come into play if it does.

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