WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — After three days of deliberations, a judge declared a mistrial for three former Washington County deputies charged with murder in the death of Eurie Martin.
Less than an hour before court wrapped up for the day, jurors informed Judge H. Gibbs Flanders they were deadlocked, saying no one’s mind had changed since Friday. The move came after the jury reviewed video evidence once again from the day of Martin’s death and asked to look over the Fourth Amendment, which protects a person from unreasonable search or seizure.
“I’m sorry to be doing this because it means this case is not brought to a resolution,” Flanders said to the courtroom.
Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott faced a total of 24 counts. A mistrial does not mean they are acquitted. Those charges will remain, and the defendants will remain on bond. The case could be retried before a new jury if the district attorney chooses to prosecute again.
“The family is devastated by Mr. Martin’s death,” Attorney Mawuli Davis of Davis Bozeman Johnson Law Firm, said. “After four long years, the family is exhausted after the trial of these former deputies failed to reach a verdict.”
“While the seasons change, some things remain the same,” Attorney Francys Johnson of Davis Bozeman Johnson Law Firm added. “Black men and women are dying in deadly interactions with law enforcement without accountability. Without accountability trust in the system is unfounded. We had hoped that just maybe Sandersville would teach America what accountability looks like.”
News of the mistrial quickly traveled to activists and community members who gathered outside the courthouse. Bailiffs stood guard outside, watching as some shouted, “No justice, no peace.”
“It’s because there was a black man,” Leonard Jordan, a member of the NAACP, said. “I don’t even feel protected. I don’t feel safe in Washington County. I could be the next victim who is killed by white officers.”