Deputy faces charges, loses job, grieving family remains silent - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Deputy faces charges, loses job, grieving family remains silent

March 8, 2005

Americus- When Donnie Spillers made his first appearance in Americus Tuesday, it was the first time in his 18-year career to be on the other side of the law.

"This has been a demanding investigation and while we are at this stage in the investigation, it is by no means complete," said GBI investigator Danny Jackson.

That means we don't know if investigators believe Beaver was trying to burglarize the pawn shop. We do now know Beaver didn't try to run from deputies.

"There's no indication that there was any force used to have Beaver pull over," Jackson said. "All indication is that he pulled over voluntarily."

Sources in the Lee County Sheriff's office tell WALB Spillers confessed that he panicked after shooting Beaver and did something rash, planting the knife in his truck. Prosecutors say Spillers did not mean to shoot the 17-year-old, and have only charged him with a misdemeanor.

"And there is not evidence to prove any higher charge in the terms of the death of Mr. Beaver," said District Attorney Cecilia Cooper.

The second deputy on the scene that night, Sandra Pressley Fordham, is apparently back on active duty. Cooper said her office has not seen the complete GBI report, so the final decision on whether Fordham will face any charges will be made later.

Authorities still won't talk about what evidence they do have.

"Any details of the case, other than what's in the warrants and the official record, may lead to the defendant asking for the case to be transferred to another county for the trial because of pre-trial publicity," Cooper said.

That's not what the District Attorney's office wants. They want this case to be heard by the people of Lee County, a case that is the first of it's kind in Cooper's 14-year-career.

"Generally speaking for law enforcement officers, pulling your gun and pulling the trigger is the last resort. That's what they're trained for."

Lee County Sheriff Harold Breeden says he began the process Tuesday to fire Spillers. Spillers was released on $12,000 bond.

Spillers is charged with involuntary manslaughter and tampering with evidence. Both of those are misdemeanors and each hold a maximum of 12 months in jail.

He's also charged with making false statements and violating his oath of office. Both of those charges are felonies. Spillers could face one to five years in jail for each felony charge.

Total, he could face up to 12 years in prison and have to pay up to a $100,000 fine. If Spillers is convicted of either of the felony charges, he will never be able to work in law enforcement again.

No one from the family will speak out and some of his friends are saying that the family has asked them to stop talking. So for now, we continue to know little about the life of this young man from the people who knew him and loved him the most.

posted by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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