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Posted: 1/19/2006 1:58:47 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/19/2006 2:05:40 PM EDT by vanilla_gorilla]
Link
By Jeff Burlew
DEMOCRAT STAFF WRITER


A Leon County grand jury on Wednesday found that Tallahassee police acted appropriately when they shot and killed a 17-year-old Thomasville, Ga., boy who they feared was reaching for a gun.

But an attorney for the boy's family, Joseph Weathers of Moultrie, Ga., said police were not justified in shooting John Hayes. He said the family will file a lawsuit against the city and the four Tallahassee Police Department officers who killed him.

Hayes died early Nov. 26 in a parking lot on High Road after officers fired 15 shots at him. The officers were responding to a report of gunfire. Here's what happened, according to the grand jury report:

Officers surrounded the car and ordered the driver, Demetrius Ross, to throw the keys out and exit the vehicle. Ross complied and confirmed that a firearm was inside the car.

Hayes, a front-seat passenger, opened his door before being told to do so, which led officers to believe that he was about to run. He got out of the car and dropped face-down on the ground but ignored officers' demands to crawl away from the car.

Officers approached Hayes to subdue him, but he suddenly raised up. They fired a non-lethal Taser weapon at him twice and struck his leg with a baton but couldn't stop him from moving toward the car's open door.

When Hayes dove into the front seat, the officers fired almost simultaneously. Officer Dan Copelin fired nine shots with his pistol. Officer Nick Roberts fired four shots with a rifle. Officer Bob Todd fired once with his pistol. And Officer Steve Damm fired once with his shotgun. Hayes died almost instantly.

Officers later found a large knife, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a loaded .22-caliber gun in the car. A toxicology exam found marijuana in Hayes' system and a blood-alcohol level of .25. Drivers are considered impaired when their blood-alcohol level is .08.

"John Hayes could not have driven away in the vehicle as the keys were thrown out by the driver," the grand jury report stated. "So the officers made a reasonable assumption that he dove into the car to avoid arrest and to obtain a deadly weapon."

The report states that Hayes' actions and choices, likely influenced by marijuana and alcohol, led officers to fear that they were in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. Florida law allows officers to use deadly force to defend themselves and others in such circumstances.

Late Wednesday, TPD Chief Walt McNeil read a prepared statement, saying that he was pleased that the grand jury found no wrongdoing. He also offered condolences to Hayes' family.

"In addition," he said, "we hope and pray that no other lives, police officers' or suspects', are ended because of gun violence."

A third passenger in the car, Rondell Veney, told police that Hayes was screaming when police surrounded the car. He said he guessed Hayes was upset because he didn't want to go back to jail. Hayes had served two years in a juvenile detention facility in Georgia after he pleaded guilty to a 2003 home-invasion armed robbery.

Weathers, the attorney for the Hayes family, said the boy had earned his GED and was taking welding classes at a vocational school. He said Hayes was not reaching for a gun when he was shot in the back, and that he should have been taken into custody after he got out of the car.

"That should have been the end of it right there," Weathers said. "The way the whole thing went down was wrong."

The NAACP earlier this month called for an independent citizens review board to review Police Department procedures and shootings involving officers. Charles Evans, president of the local NAACP, said the board is needed partly because grand juries that investigate shootings are guided by prosecutors.

The officers have been assigned to administrative work until an internal affairs investigation is complete. McNeil said the investigation into whether any TPD policies or procedures were violated would be finished in three or four weeks. The officers also will receive counseling, which is mandatory in police shootings.


Two of the four officers that went before the grand jury yesterday are personal friends of mine, and this is absolutely thrilling for all of us.

Edit: Of course, when the news broke yesterday, the local evening news interviewed some of the boys family and neighbors, who espoused that he was a wonderful kid cut down by those horrible white men in the prime of his life. They said he had turned his life around since his armed robbery conviction.
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 2:01:51 PM EDT
Don't like the results of a frivolous lawsuit? Just file it again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again! ...
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 5:12:52 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vanilla_gorilla:

When Hayes dove into the front seat, the officers fired almost simultaneously. Officer Dan Copelin fired nine shots with his pistol. Officer Nick Roberts fired four shots with a rifle. Officer Bob Todd fired once with his pistol. And Officer Steve Damm fired once with his shotgun. Hayes died almost instantly.



That's all I need to know. The police acted appropriately. I'd bet $50 their conclusion that he was going for a gun was 100% correct.


Late Wednesday, TPD Chief Walt McNeil read a prepared statement, saying that he was pleased that the grand jury found no wrongdoing. He also offered condolences to Hayes' family.

"In addition," he said, "we hope and pray that no other lives, police officers' or suspects', are ended because of gun violence."



The chief is obviously a would-be gun grabber and a communist asshole. That's no surprise in Tallahassee.

Link Posted: 1/19/2006 5:34:36 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:

Originally Posted By vanilla_gorilla:

When Hayes dove into the front seat, the officers fired almost simultaneously. Officer Dan Copelin fired nine shots with his pistol. Officer Nick Roberts fired four shots with a rifle. Officer Bob Todd fired once with his pistol. And Officer Steve Damm fired once with his shotgun. Hayes died almost instantly.



That's all I need to know. The police acted appropriately. I'd bet $50 their conclusion that he was going for a gun was 100% correct.


Late Wednesday, TPD Chief Walt McNeil read a prepared statement, saying that he was pleased that the grand jury found no wrongdoing. He also offered condolences to Hayes' family.

"In addition," he said, "we hope and pray that no other lives, police officers' or suspects', are ended because of gun violence."



The chief is obviously a would-be gun grabber and a communist asshole. That's no surprise in Tallahassee.





As with the last shooting here, he's not behind these boys at all, and he's hung them out to dry every time. Even then, though, they've been no-billed every time, no thanks to his sorry ass.
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 5:48:06 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/19/2006 5:53:12 PM EDT by LANCEMAN]
I hate Frenchtown with a passion. They used to bus us from over by Lake Jackson to Griffin Middle school so they could have some white people in the population. There used to be gunshots everyday while we were in class and we would pass prostitutes and dealers with the bus on the way to school. Any cop that goes down in that shithole at night is braver than I'll ever be. One less felon on the streets.

ETA: I'm thinking of High Road south of Tharpe Street but I guess it could have been up closer to the campus.
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 5:58:17 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vanilla_gorilla:
A third passenger in the car, Rondell Veney, told police that Hayes was screaming when police surrounded the car. He said he guessed Hayes was upset because he didn't want to go back to jail. Hayes had served two years in a juvenile detention facility in Georgia after he pleaded guilty to a 2003 home-invasion armed robbery.



But . . . but he was about to turn his life around. How tragic.
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 6:14:30 PM EDT
It's always a straight A student that get's shot on his way to get ice cream for his baby sister, I can hear it now, thoes racist polices put that gun on him, he was a good boy that helped old ladies cross the street and went to church EVERY DAY. Why can't we shoot the F- students, I just can't seem to find any.You guys know it ain't over yet, prepare for the civil suite.
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 7:13:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LANCEMAN:
I hate Frenchtown with a passion. They used to bus us from over by Lake Jackson to Griffin Middle school so they could have some white people in the population. There used to be gunshots everyday while we were in class and we would pass prostitutes and dealers with the bus on the way to school. Any cop that goes down in that shithole at night is braver than I'll ever be. One less felon on the streets.

ETA: I'm thinking of High Road south of Tharpe Street but I guess it could have been up closer to the campus.



You got nearly the right area, just a few blocks off and about 8 blocks from Griffin MS. The scene of the shooting is about 60 yards from my old house.

Funny, my brother lives right up by Lake Jackson now.
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 7:26:08 PM EDT
Link Posted: 1/19/2006 7:33:53 PM EDT

Drivers are considered impaired when their blood-alcohol level is .08.


No, drivers are considered legally intoxicated at .08. Impairment begins between .02 and .04.
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