SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WJBF)– Three former Washington County sheriff’s deputies are on trial for murder after 58-year-old Eurie Martin died while in police custody. His death allegedly caused by the officers’ tasers.
Twelve jurors have been selected, opening arguments have been made, and a few witnesses have been called, including a man who witnessed the incident in 2017. Kendrick Wiley-Johnson says his coworker recorded the incident on Wiley-Johnson’s phone.
“He didn’t do nothing,” Wiley-Johnson said. “He looked like he didn’t understand what was going on. I pulled up close to him at first and I started to just tell him to go with them [sheriff’s deputies]. I think if someone had just talked to him I think he would have went [with the sheriff’s deputies].”
Rhett Scott, Michael Howell, and Henry Copeland face charges of felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, and reckless conduct.
The defense argued the former sheriff’s deputies were not properly trained.
“He did not know Mr. Martin was schizophrenic. He did not know, as the state said, his autopsy did not show that he was medicated for his schizophrenia,” attorney for Michael Howell said. “He was a part time police officer serving the public for nearly 20 years. And unfortunately, he was not properly trained by Washington County on how to interact with a mentally ill citizen.”
A medical examiner concluded Martin died of a heart attack during police restraint.
The state argued the deputies, although responding to a suspicious person call, did not have reasonable cause to stop or tase Martin.
“Electricity flowed from the hands of all three defendants,” the prosecutors said. “Eurie Lee Martin potentially was subjected to 114 seconds of 50,000 volts of electricity in less than five minutes.”
The trial is expected to take another two to two and a half weeks.