Lee County served with notice of suit - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Lee County served with notice of suit

Lee County- It's been more than a month since Wesley Beaver died from a gunshot to the face.

The shooter, former Lee County Deputy Donnie Spillers, is waiting to see if a grand jury indicts him. Now, Lee County must prepare for a possible ten million dollar lawsuit.

The Beaver family has hired Dawson attorney T. Gamble to handle the wrongful death lawsuit that they may soon file. The pre-litigation notice names the county, the sheriff's department and Spillers.

Monday night county commissioners got a first look at that letter that also reveals graphic details of Beaver's death.

When Beaver was shot here in the early hours of February 14th, he did not die on the roadside of U.S. Highway 19 and he suffered great pain. At the same time, investigators believe Spillers planted a knife to make Beaver look armed. According to a letter notifying Lee County of possible lawsuit, "...hospital personnel report he was in great agony and pain at the time he arrived at the emergency room. It is inconceivable to believe that a police officer was concerned about covering up this shooting, rather than rendering assistance."

Days later, more than 1000 people attended the 17-year-old teen's memorial service. Now the family is preparing to file a wrongful death suit.

According to the letter, the family has funeral bills of more than $1,800 and a bill from Phoebe Putney for more than $50,000. The attorney is asking for more than $10 million to settle any and all claims.

"We've taken that information, turned it over to our insurance for review and response, and I really can't comment much more than that," said Lee County Administrator Langford Holbrook.

The letter also says the sheriff's department is responsible for the actions of Spillers. It claims the department knew about previous problems with Spillers, but never took any action, including "... at least one previous incident in which Capt. Spillers' post certification should have been terminated, but chose to ignore the situation..."

No one from the sheriff's department was at Monday night's commission meeting and Chief Deputy Dennis Parker said no one would comment because they know nothing about the potential lawsuit.

"It's a very sensitive, tragic situation and Lee County wants to make sure we proceed with the appropriate decorum for something like that," Holbrook said.

The Beaver family has given attorney T. Gamble the authority to file suit whenever he feels it's necessary. He is giving the County time to offer a settlement before filing suit.

Donnie Spillers is free on bond. He's charged with involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence, lying to investigators and violating his oath of office.

posted by brannon.stewart@walb.com

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