Sandersville, Ga. (WJBF)– The family of Eurie Martin, who died while being taken into police custody in 2017, gathered at the Washington County Courthouse to honor him on what would have been his 63rd birthday.
In 2017, Eurie Martin walked from Milledgeville to Sandersville, where he stopped and asked a resident for water. That Washington County resident reported him as a suspicious person.
The responding officers–Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott– allegedly tased Martin for 114 seconds in the span of five minutes. Martin died while being taken into custody.
“He had done nothing wrong and he died. God knows he died for no reason at all because it could have been avoided,” Martin’s sister Barbara Evans said.
The former deputies were charged with 24 counts including felony murder.
Following a trial and three days of deliberation in 2021, the jury was hung resulting in a mistrial.
“I felt heartbroken because I thought my dad would’ve gotten justice and I thought the district attorney would win the case for my dad,” Martin’s son Joseph Martin said.
“It was real, real disappointing. I sat in the courtroom looking at all three of the police. How they got off,” Evans said.
A mistrial does not mean the deputies were found not guilty. There could be a new trial and a new jury, if the district attorney chooses to prosecute again.
Martin’s family says they will not stop fighting until that happens.
“They can go home and see their family. We can’t see my brother,” Evans said.
“We need to get justice. No justice no peace. It has been over five years,” Martin’s brother-in-law Jerry Gilbert Jr. said.
“I’m a Black man, I’ve got to live in this county. I could be pulled over and lose my life for nothing. That’s why I’m out here fighting to stop this,” activist Leonard Jordan said.
While awaiting a retrial, Martin’s loved ones say they will spend his birthday remembering him.
“He’s like a brother to me. He’d do anything for anybody,” Gilbert said.
“Eurie was a loving, kind person and he didn’t have to die the way he did,” Evans said.
The family says their attorney is working on an appeal, and a civil lawsuit.