Details of deadly Albany police standoff emerge - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Details of deadly Albany police standoff emerge

June 14, 2007

Albany -- The day before Matthew Thomas' suicide, his girlfriend told police he pulled a gun on her, sexually assaulted her and tried to kill her.

Even though Albany Police were at his house, they never arrested him, and less than 24 hours later, Thomas shot and killed himself.

Still, Albany's Police Chief continues to defend his officers' actions.

In an incident report from Sunday, June 3rd, Yolanda Harris told police that Matthew Thomas, threatened to kill her, sexually assaulted her, and attempted to suffocate her with a pillow. She says at one point he held a gun to her head. But despite her claims, Chief James Younger says his officers didn't have evidence to arrest Matthew Thomas.

"I said number one, there was no physical evidence there were no marks, no scratches. Number two, there were no witnesses, Number three, she made a verbal statement, but would not put that statement into writing.

Under Georgia law, police didn't need Harris' permission to arrest Thomas. "An officer can still make an arrest if the victim doesn't want to prosecute them in a domestic violence case, but that officer has to have some corroborating evidence."

Among the evidence police had was a statement from Yolanda Harris' friend, Tiffany Davis who said Thomas threatened to kill Yolanda Harris, her new boyfriend, and himself.

And in this case the chief felt he didn't have enough credible evidence? "You know, I'm not going to argue with you. I think you need to go on to another point," said Younger.

Younger says the department has gone back and reviewed the events of June third and fourth and doesn't see any other outcome.

Question: In this case, under your critique of it, do you feel that you guys feel that you handled this situation to the best of your abilities? "I think we handled the situation well."

Question: Both days, on Sunday, on Monday even though the outcome resulted in suicide? "Based on the information that we had, I think the suicide would have occurred.

Question: So even though he had a gun on Sunday and the statements she made to police... "At the time we responded on Sunday we had no evidence of a gun, let's move on to something else."

But there was a gun, and Matthew Thomas used it on himself the very next day.

Police Chief James Younger did say the case remained under investigation Monday and officers were on the street when Harris made the call to 911 that started the standoff.

Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=YoungerInterview/JE

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