AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Around 2:00 AM Thursday, former Burke County Deputy Andra Gardner got a call by a neighbor saying that Gardner’s front door was open. The neighbor believed a possible burglary had happened. Sheriff Alfonzo Williams says Gardener was off duty at a bar on Gordon Highway when he received the call. He then drove to his Richmond County home on Caddenwoods Drive.
“He used his off-duty weapon to go through the house, in what we call “clearing the house,” to ensure there were no perpetrators inside,” explained Sheriff Willams. “He checked the downstairs; then, when he went upstairs to check, he says he thought he heard a ruckus downstairs.”
Gardner told investigators he believed he saw a man leaving his yard and shot at him five times with his personal gun. He did not think the man was armed.
“It had been raining, the soil was wet, and the grass was undisturbed,” said Sheriff Williams. “So, the investigators became concerned about the events.”
During an interview, Richmond County Investigators say Gardner smelled of alcohol. When tested, the investigators say he blew above the legal alcohol limit. Sheriff Williams says Gardner’s actions go against how the agency trains deputies.
“A person who is fleeing, who is unarmed, and that does not pose a threat; that would be improper,” described Sheriff Williams. “It’s a behavior that we are certainly not in the keeping of what we train to do.”
The Burke County Sheriff told NewsChannel 6 reporter Devin Johnson someone could’ve died from the former deputy’s poor judgment.
“Police are held to a higher standard to the general public, that’s what they expect from us,” said Sheriff Williams. “We go through ethics training to reinforce that, and when we do wrong, we police our own.”
The Burke County Sheriff’s Office hired Gardner on October 21st, 2019. He was still on probationary status. Gardner was fired Thursday afternoon.
Photojournalist: Mark Gaskins