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Examining police shootings: Case of Caroline Small was ’worst’ ever seen, GBI agent says. Officers were cleared in 2010 case riddled with special treatment, AJC investigation finds.

Caroline Small in a family photo
Caroline Small in a family photo

Credit: Shawn McIntosh

Credit: Shawn McIntosh

Here's the top of a new story in our series on police shootings, with incredible digging by reporter Brad Schrade and our Channel 2 Action News partner Jodie Fleischer.

Brunswick — At high noon on June 18, 2010, Caroline Small, a petite 35-year-old woman and mother of two, sat behind the wheel of her beat-up Buick Century with nowhere to turn. Police vehicles flanked her on two sides, a shallow ditch was on another and a utility pole blocked her rear bumper.

Unarmed but distraught, Small’s crime to that point had been reckless driving and leading police on an erratic low-speed chase that ended when her car, tires flattened to the rims, spun out on a suburban street. Sirens blared and officers shouted as she put the car into reverse, then drive, then reverse. Two officers stood ground near their cars, guns drawn.

“If she moves the car, I’m going to shoot her,” an officer yelled. Small pulled forward. Eight bullets tore through the windshield, striking her in the head and the face. The shooting was captured on police dash cam video.

So was what the two Glynn County officers said afterward. They compared their marksmanship. One told a witness how he saw Small’s head explode.

Their words were as callous as Small’s death unnecessary.

“This is the worst one I’ve ever investigated,” said Mike McDaniel, a retired GBI agent who supervised the 2010 criminal investigation into the officers’ actions. “I don’t think it’s a good shoot. I don’t think it’s justified.”

You can read the premium story in Sunday's newspaper or on

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