SANDERSVILLE, Ga. — Georgia's supreme court will hear arguments in May over whether to reinstate murder charges against three former Washington County deputies involved in a fatal Tasing.
In July 2017, Deputies Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott responded to a call of a suspicious person walking along a country road near Deep Step.
They claimed that they Tased Eurie Martin because he fought with them. But a bystander sent video to 13WMAZ that showed that was not true.
According to a testimony in a hearing last year, two deputies Tased Martin 11 times for total of 86 seconds.
Martin, who was 58, died on the scene.
Sheriff Thomas Smith, who died last August, fired the three deputies, saying they violated several department procedures.
Washington County grand juries have indicted the men twice. The first indictments, in 2017, were thrown out due to a procedural problem.
Last November, Judge H. Gibb Flanders threw out the charges again.
He ruled that the officers used reasonable force because they were preventing "death or great bodily injury" — even though witnesses said Martin ignored the deputies and repeatedly walked away from them.
District Attorney Heyward Altman last month appealed Flanders' ruling to the Georgia Supreme Court. His appeal argues that the deputies are not immune from prosecution because they were not acting in self-defense.
"The death of Eurie Martin, an unarmed, mentally ill man who tried to walk away from a citizen-police encounter where the state cannot discern a crime committed by Martin, has shaken our community's faith in the benchmark protections upon which most citizens rely," wrote Assistant District Attorney Kelly Weathers.
According to Jane Hansen of the state supreme court, justices have agreed to hear arguments on the Martin case in May. No date has been set and lawyers for the three deputies have not yet filed a response.
The three deputies were each charged with two counts of felony murder, two counts of involuntary manslaughter, one count of false imprisonment, one count of aggravated assault, one count of simple assault and one count of reckless conduct.
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