Special to SEGAZINE
Officers responding to a 911 call used excessive force when they shot a south Georgia man to death inside his home, a lawyer for the man’s family said Wednesday.
Jack Lamar Roberson’s family has said the 45-year-old was unarmed and wasn’t warned by police before officers fired at him, said lawyer Christopher Chestnut.
Waycross police didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment Wednesday, but Chief Tony Tanner has said officers had to protect themselves when they shot Roberson on Oct. 4. A police report says officers fired on Roberson after he lunged at them with a large meat fork and what appeared to be a knife.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case, which is not unusual for shootings involving police. An autopsy report likely won’t be available for a couple of weeks, GBI spokeswoman Sherry Lang said.
Police last week released a 911 recording in which Roberson’s fiancee, Alicia Herron, can be heard asking for an ambulance and telling a 911 operator Roberson had overturned a refrigerator, broken a TV set and said to family members “he wants to die.” She said Roberson had taken “a couple of big handfuls of pills” he took for diabetes and had been drinking, but she said he wasn’t threatening anyone in the home.
His mother, Diann Roberson, who also lived in the home told The Associated Press last week that she was there and didn’t see anything in her son’s hands.
The police chief has said two officers yelled for Roberson to stop and drop his weapons but that he continued to approach them. Diann Roberson said she heard no warning before the shots rang out.
Both officers were placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
Chestnut said he’s in the early stages of his investigation into the shooting, but he said it’s likely he’ll file a lawsuit on behalf of Roberson’s family. The Atlanta-based lawyer has also handled other high-profile cases, including representing the parents of a Florida A&M University drum major from suburban Atlanta who died after a hazing ritual.