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Deputy charged with murder in Eurie Martin case continues to work as firefighter

500 people have signed a petition demanding the city of Sandersville terminate Howell as a volunteer firefighter.

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ga. — It was 5 years ago when a video circulated of a black man being tased to death by three Washington County deputies. 

While the case awaits a possible second trial, 1 of the deputies remains in public safety, but works now as a volunteer firefighter. 

The family of Eurie Martin says they're demanding Sandersville Fire Department terminate Michael Howell, who is charged with murder and is indicted in the tasing death.

If you go to the Sandersville Fire Department's website, it doesn't take long to find that Michael Howell works there. His name is clearly listed on the roster.

The city says he's served as a volunteer firefighter since September 2008, and during part of that time, he also worked at Washington County Sheriff's Office as a deputy.

Michael Howell was the first deputy to arrive on July 7, 2017. He asked for backup to a call where a black man asked a homeowner for water while he was walking home.

Shortly after, deputies Rhett Scott and Henry Copeland arrived. Then, video shows Scott and Copeland tasing Eurie Martin at least 15 times in less than 5 minutes. 

Howell was the only one of the 3 who did not carry a stun gun that day.

Video shows Martin lying motionless while none of the deputies rendered aid, including Howell, who had been a certified firefighter since 2010 according to state records.

"He stood there as they tased Mr. Martin. He stood there and watched him die. He failed upon the duty of acting," said Leonard Jordan, Martin's family friend. 

Jordan got 500 signatures from people demanding that the city of Sandersville terminate Howell as a firefighter because he didn't try to help Martin.

"He needs to be terminated because Washington County terminated him," Jordan said. "...or either suspend him until the outcome of the trial."

Jordan presented that petition to city council, but the city said Howell is still qualified. 

According to a job posting on the Sandersville website, volunteer firefighters make $17 per call or training drill.

"Y'all don't care about us. period. If you did, you would have joined us when those three murderers killed that black man for nothing. Where was the sheriff? Where were the commissioners? Where was the mayor?," Jordan said. 

Under Georgia law, Howell is still qualified to hold his firefighter certifications. 

The law says you cannot be a volunteer firefighter if you've been convicted or pled guilty to a felony in the last 10 years. 

Howell pled not guilty and has not been convicted.

All firefighters in the state of Georgia must be certified through the Georgia Public Safety Training Center.

Randy Toms, director of the center's Firefighter Standards and Training Council, says there is no reason for Howell to be de-certified.


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