Thomas Co. grand jury hears fatal deputy-involved shooting case

Thomas Co. grand jury hears fatal deputy-involved shooting case

THOMASVILLE, GA (WALB) - On Monday, a grand jury heard the case a Thomas County deputy accused in a deadly shooting in August

It's a case that caught the attention of many across South Georgia. Now, it has the full attention of 23 grand jury members in Thomas County.

"They will be looking at what was in the officer's mind at the time that he fired the gun, what beliefs he had, why he fired the gun. And then they will be looking at were his beliefs reasonable based on the facts and circumstances that existed at the time he pulled the trigger," said Brad Shealey, District Attorney.

The GBI said Deputy Josh Smith shot and killed Herbert Gilbert while attempting to serve a search warrant.

The sheriff's office turned over all body camera footage, dash camera footage, and the warrants they were serving.

All of that was looked at by the grand jury today and they are to decide, "Was the officer justified in the use of deadly force?"

"If they believe the beliefs were reasonable they could say that it was a use of justifiable deadly force. If they decide that the beliefs were not reasonable then they could seek criminal charges," said Shealey.

If they were to decide there is enough evidence to possibly pursue criminal charges they would pass the case along to a criminal grand jury who would hear the case in March.

Although it is not required that a grand jury hears the case of an officer-involved shooting, Shealey says that is his protocol as a DA.

"I think the main reason is to give transparency to the community to know that we have a grand jury looking at these things and they are looking at it to make a recommendation but you know sometimes we might not agree with the recommendation. This is our part to try to make sure we are being completely open in any case where we are dealing with a law officer-involved shooting," said Shealey.

According to Shealey, the grand jury decision was expected to be delivered tomorrow in open court but he plans to file a motion to continue the return of the grand jury decision until a later date.

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