ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – In three years, the Martin family has not given up. And they are hoping this is the first time in Georgia history that law enforcement will be convicted of felony murder.
“I will never stop,” said Helen Gilbert. “I will ride this out and see this to the end.”
From shouting his name in Sandersville to the Georgia Supreme Court. The family of Eurie Lee Martin, the 58-year-old Milledgeville man who died after being tased by three Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies, said they can finally see a pathway to justice.
“I felt like the justice system just did not work,” Gilbert said. “Finally, I begin to feel different after it went to the Supreme Court.”
Helen Gilbert, Martin’s sister, is talking about a ruling from earlier this month. The state versus Henry Lee Copeland, Rhett Scott and Michael Howell. All former deputies had been indicted for felony murder and other charges in Martin’s death. But they were granted immunity based on self-defense claims. The Georgia Supreme Court said not so fast.
Mawuli Davis, Co-Council of the Martin family, told us “We just believe that it was the right thing, that it was legally sound.” He added this case is and always has been unique based on what traditionally did not take place legally in deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement pre – George Floyd.
Francys Johnson, who is also on the legal team, agreed.
“We intend to hold the system that employed them, that failed to properly train them and that retained some of these officers when there was due course to let them go a long time ago.”
The Supreme Court determined the trial court’s findings were inconsistent in terms of using self-defense as a reasonable use of force by law enforcement in Martin’s death. They also ruled the court failed to prove whether any or all three deputies used force intended to cause death.
Johnson said, “Mr. Martin, although he didn’t offer any combat, he didn’t resist he was simply trying to walk away, he had a right to resist. He had a right to stand his ground against those who were trying to falsely imprison him and assault him on that day.”
“Eurie was a very kind person,” Gilbert said. “I would say ‘Eurie would you cut the grass.’ He would cut the grass with a smile on his face and say ‘yeah, I’ll cut the grass.'”
Martin’s legal team said they expect additional motions to be filed and hope the case goes to trial in spring or early summer. We will continue to follow this developing story.