GBI: Man dead in Thomas Co. shooting after pointing gun at officer

Published: Oct. 5, 2017 at 12:06 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2017 at 8:05 PM EDT
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THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - The Georgia Bureau of Investigation responded to a fatal shooting involving a Thomas County deputy.

Residents on County Line Road say it seemed to be a normal Wednesday, until around 7 p.m.

Right outside Ernest Smith's window, he could see a standoff between two sheriff's office deputies and a man.

"I just saw two police officers trying to get a man to put down his pistol and talk to them. He would not do it. He kept talking and wouldn't stop walking and talking," said Smith.

When deputies arrived on the scene they made contact with the man, who they said was talking irrationally and carrying a pistol.

"He said 'Go ahead and kill me.' They said, 'We're not here to shoot you or kill you. We're here to talk to you. Put your weapon down. Let's sit down and talk.' He was talking but he wasn't talking to them, they didn't get a chance to say nothing," said Smith.

Deputies said they tried de-escalating the situation but they said the man wouldn't respond or put the gun down.

The Thomasville/Thomas County SWAT Team arrived on the scene and also attempted to talk to the man. Smith was told to go inside.

"I went in the house to eat a little snack and I heard gunshots and I jumped up and ran outside and got close. One of the officers said, 'You're going to have to stop and go inside. This is a crime scene,'" said Smith.

GBI Investigators said deputies approached the man and shot at him with a bean bag round, but the shot was ineffective.

Investigators said that's when the man then pointed his gun at the SWAT officers.

At that time, an officer providing cover during the exchange fatally shot the man.

In August, a deputy-involving shooting death led to widespread demonstrations in Thomasville. In that case, the GBI said Thomas County Sheriff's deputy Josh Smith shot and killed Herbert Gilbert, 37, while serving a search warrant.

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