Sheriff's investigator won't be charged in fatal shooting

A Richmond County Sheriff investigator was justified in shooting a man who had just robbed a fast-food restaurant, District Attorney Ashley Wright has determined.

With “no evidence whatsoever of any criminal intent” in the shooting of Joseph Augustus Gooden, Ms. Wright will not pursue a criminal case against Investigator Tim Tobias, according to a letter she sent Monday to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the fatal shooting.

Investigator Tobias shot Mr. Gooden, 26, the night of Nov. 24 after he robbed Captain D’s on Wrightsboro Road, according to the GBI.

In the letter, Ms. Wright says that Investigator Tobias was working a second job providing security at the restaurant that night.

Witnesses told investigators that Mr. Gooden had masked his face before entering the store with a gun later determined to be a BB rifle. All but one of the witnesses saw Mr. Gooden threaten employees and heard him demand money, Ms. Wright wrote. The gun was also put to the back of the assistant manager’s head.

As Mr. Gooden attempted to leave with the money, Investigator Tobias ordered him to stop. When Mr. Gooden didn’t obey, Investigator Tobias shot him, Ms. Wright wrote. He shot Mr. Gooden again when he would not stay on the ground.

None of the investigator’s four shots were fired at close range.

Georgia law allows a law enforcement officer to use deadly force when:

* An officer reasonably believes a suspected felon has a deadly weapon

* An officer reasonably believes a suspected felon could be an immediate danger to another

* An officer reasonably believes the suspected felon has caused or could have caused serious physical harm

* When an officer reasonably believes force is necessary to prevent an escape

“Applying the law to the foregoing undisputed facts, the shooting of Joseph Augustus Gooden was justified,” Ms. Wright wrote to the GBI investigators.

Without any criminal intent on Investigator Tobias’ part, there is no legal basis to submit the case to the grand jury, Ms. Wright wrote in her letter to the GBI.

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