A Cobb County grand jury has cleared the SWAT officer who shot and killed a Marine veteran during a standoff in July.
The jury handed down its decision Thursday that Dennis Ponte was justified in his deadly use of force against 33-year-old Brian Easley. The grand jury also recommended the district attorney take no further action in the matter.
Easley falsely claimed he had an IED in his backpack that could “take out the entire room” during the July hostage situation inside a Wells Fargo on Windy Hill Road.
A robot breached the front door of the bank, but what happened afterward that led to Ponte shooting Easley is still unclear. State authorities have been investigating since the officer-involved shooting.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation looked into the case, which isn’t unusual, and confirmed Friday that it hasn’t yet closed its investigation.
Police found a machete but no explosives in Easley’s backpack after the shooting. No one else was injured.
Edward Powers, executive director of HOPE Atlanta, the VA-sponsored initiative that places veterans in permanent housing, said the program had interacted with Easley
“He was terribly afflicted with PTSD, and he was being treated for it,” Powers said.
Ponte declined an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through a Cobb police spokesman.
A review of records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution soon after the shooting at the bank found that Ponte killed an 18-year-old man during an April 2016 standoff. In that case, Demetrius Deshon Dorsey had been holding two employees at gunpoint at a Marathon gas station in Mableton when Ponte killed him.
Easley was killed in the Wells Fargo standoff on July 7.
When asked about the short three-month turnaround in the officer-involved shooting investigation, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Kimberly Isaza said: “The facts of this case were uncomplicated.”