Civilian in officer involved shooting out of emergency room
LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - Law enforcement reported that a man who was shot in an officer involved shooting on Tuesday in Lee County has been released from the emergency room and is now in 'fair condition'.
Officials with the Lee County Sheriff's Office and the GBI are investigating the officer involved shooting that happened Tuesday morning at Spring Lake Estates mobile home park off Stocks Dairy Road.
Officials identified the man as Christopher Blake Terry, 29.
Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals said the incident began when EMS was called to the house on Keyridge Drive.
The sheriff said that when the deputy arrived on scene the man was not cooperating with his orders.
Rachals said Terry had three knives in his hand and the deputy told the man to drop them, but he did not.
"He wasn't following his orders, and the officer felt like he was advancing too much for him without taking a shot, and taking shots enough to get him down on the ground," Rachals said. "And yes, that's when he did [fire shots]."
Other witnesses who didn't want to be identified also said Terry charged at the deputy with a knife.
"The sheriff told him at least five times to halt and to drop the weapon, and on the fourth time, instead of dropping his weapon, he bolted at the sheriff and he fired," said a witness who didn't want to go on camera. "You see it on TV all the time but to really experience it, I know what people go through now, I really do," he said.
The Sheriff said right now he supports his deputy's decision unless the investigation shows something different. The Sheriff's Office called in the GBI for assistance immediately after the incident. They've been surveying the area since then.
"That way there is no interference on our part with what we need to help them do."
The witness we spoke with said he's happy with how the investigation is being handled.
"He had no choice. He did not want to. I could tell he was not trying to open fire on him but he had no choice," he said.
It wasn't immediately clear how many shots were fired, but it was more than one.
EMS waited for clearance from the deputy to confirm the scene was safe before responding.
Terry was transported to the hospital for treatment.
Terry's girlfriend Clarissa Rogers said she watched the events play out.
"They could've shot him somewhere else, they could've tasered him, they could've done anything. Them shooting him three times in the chest was not necessary," remarked Rogers.
Rogers said she's upset with how deputies handled it.
"You could do things in a way that's not jeopardizing somebody's life," said Rogers.
Around 10 a.m., Rogers came out of her house screaming Terry was not going to hurt anyone.
Rogers explained Terry was acting irate when his aunt called 911 after seeing his hand cut open.
"I don't feel like you should shoot a civilian in the upper torso unless he is running at you," said Rogers.
But other witnesses who didn't want to go on camera said they did see Terry moving towards the deputy with a knife.
Rogers said Terry was going through a lot, and this morning was his breaking point.
"If they were going to shoot him, I feel like they could've shot him in the lower torso," remarked Rogers.
The GBI is handling the investigation and reviewing the deputy's body cam and dash cam footage.
Why did the EMS crew call for backup?
Lee County's Public Safety Director explained why EMS crews call for police backup before responding during dangerous situations like the officer involved shooting.
Wesley Wells said crews' first priority is scene safety.
When en route to a call, the first responders call dispatch for additional information.
Anytime there is a threat such as a suicide or a person with a gun, crews stop about half of block down the road from the scene.
Wells explained it allows the crews to be close enough to the incident but far enough to protect themselves.
"We can't save anyone else if we're trying to save ourselves. Therefore when we enter a scene unless it's safe for us, then it's not going to be safe to help another person," said Wells.
Wells explained first responders wait until the scene is cleared by law enforcement before providing medical attention.
He also said crews call for backup at least once a week given that they're trained constantly on situation awareness.
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