SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WJBF) – Three former Washington County deputies face criminal charges after being fired from their duties by the Sheriff. The charges stem from the July arrest and tasing of a man walking from his home in Milledgeville to Sandersville, where his family resides.
The family of 58-year-old Eurie Lee Martin exclaimed, through their lawyers, that the District Attorney’s announcement was a step towards justice. Hayward Altman, who is Middle Judicial Circuit of Georgia District Attorney, said he reviewed the facts of the case and added everything was right with how the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and the medical examiner ruled on the case.
“Not rumors. Not innuendos, but the actual facts,” he said before the public in a courtroom at the Washington County Courthouse.
It was a sobering moment for one Washington County family as they publicly heard charges brought against Rhett Scott, Michael Howell and Henry Copeland. (pictured below in aforementioned order)
“They will be sentenced for criminal indictment for the offenses of felony murder,” DA Altman told the crowd. “They will be considered for the indictment of involuntary manslaughter, for the offense of false imprisonment, for the offense of aggravated assault, for the offense of simple battery and for the offense of reckless conduct.”
The deputies responded to a suspicious person call July 7. That person was Martin, who loved ones said was not suspicious, but walking from his home in Milledgeville to see family in Sandersville. The call led to an arrest and tasing captured on amateur cell phone video and gone viral. Altman answered few questions about the case he will try soon, but loved ones shared sentiments through their lawyers.
Mawuli Mel Davis, Martin family lawyer stood before the public with Francys Johnson and the family.
“He was just taking a walk and was actually headed to see his family. That is scary when you are going to see someone you love, you set out on a walk and you end up having to be buried,” Davis said.
Johnson added, “We think that any person looking at this will come away with the same conclusion the District Attorney has come away with, that there has been serious crimes committed. These deputies and others contributed and are responsible for the wrongful death of Eurie Lee Martin.”
The DA said the grand jury will meet December 19. He plans to hold another press conference during that time. Washington County Sheriff Thomas Smith also spoke during the DA’s press conference. He said when the incident occurred, he immediately called GBI to investigation the case because he will not tolerate that type of behavior in his department. Sheriff Smith fired all three deputies after learning the facts of the case.
NewsChannel 6 also spoke with State Representative Mack Jackson, District 128. He expressed how the announcement showed DA Altman’s courage as the case moves to the grand jury.
“I hope the message gets across that in Washington County we have good law enforcement and we have a community that stands for its citizens. And whenever we have a tragedy we make sure that we get behind the victim,” he said.
The Martin family lawyers added that a civil investigation is underway, so a civil lawsuit could also come.