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'New day for police accountability': Family of Eurie Martin praises Georgia Supreme Court decision

The Georgia Supreme Court earlier this month overruled a decision granting the deputies immunity and returned the case for trial

ATLANTA — On Tuesday, Eurie Martin's family celebrated a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that says three Washington County deputies can stand trial for his murder

The family's attorney, Francys Johnson, said the Nov. 2 ruling shows that "no one is above the law, not even these deputies."

Martin was tased and died on a country road in Washington County in July 2017. Deputies Henry Lee Copeland, Michael Howell and Rhett Scott were fired and later charged with his murder.

Two years ago, a superior court judge threw out the charges on the basis of immunity. But earlier this month, the state's highest court said the judge was wrong and the deputies must stand trial.

On Tuesday, Martin's family and lawyers praised the court and the prosecutors who've pursued the case.

They said the decision was driven, in part, by deputies' dash cam video that show Martin's death in detail.

Attorney Mawuli Davis said the footage proves that Martin was killed "as he 'walked while Black.'"

Video of the case shows that the deputies tried to stop and question Martin as he walked along Deepstep Road.

"He had offended no one. He broken no law. He was simply walking," Davis said.

He ignored them and walked away, then two of the deputies tased Martin and lawyers say the video shows them putting their weight on him.

"He should not have been Tased," said Davis. "He should not have been brutalized the way he was."

"He was terrified," said Johnson. "This was torture for him."

The deputies argued that they were protected by "qualified immunity" -- essentially arguing that they were just doing their jobs and broke no laws.

In their unanimous decision, Georgia's Supreme Court ruled that Judge H. Gibb Flanders confused elements of qualified immunity and Georgia's "stand your ground" law.

The lawyers argued that would have created a "super immunity" that put officers above law.

Johnson said the court ruling that overturned Flanders was a "momentous decision" and a "new day for police accountability."

"You can't back the blue when they've taken a life and it's unjustified," said Davis.

Martin's family praised the ruling, but said it won't bring him back.

Barbara Evans said, "My brother Eurie Martin didn't have to die this way. I miss him so often."

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