Athens police officers cleared in all six 2019 shootings

Six Athens police officers who fired their guns at suspects last year have been cleared of any wrongdoing, the department announced Wednesday.

In a news release, Athens-Clarke County police spokesman Lt. John Radford said former District Attorney Ken Mauldin reviewed the GBI’s findings in each shooting and determined all six officers were justified in their use of force.

After not having any officer-involved shootings in 2018, the number of cases in Athens spiked last year, with three shootings occurring in October alone, Radford confirmed. Five of the six suspects shot in 2019 died of their injuries.

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“DA Mauldin indicated that after his review of the cases, he determined that the shots fired by the officers were justified and that there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of any of the officers,” the release said. “Based on the DA’s findings, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation subsequently closed each of its cases involving our officers‘ uses of deadly force.”

Each case was also reviewed by the police department’s Office of Professional Standards, which determined all six officers acted within policy limits when firing their weapons.

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“Final determinations from the Police Department, the GBI, and the DA signal an end to the investigations of these incidents, confirming that, while tragic and truly unfortunate, the taking of lives by officers in these circumstances was justified,” Radford said.

In the statement, Athens police Chief Cleveland Spruill said he was pleased to learn that his officers “have been vindicated once and for all.”

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“This has been an emotional time for each of the involved officers and a very trying time for the Athens-Clarke County Police Department as a whole,” he said. “Hopefully, these decisions will bring some (sense) of closure for each of the involved officers and will allow the department to move on past these tragic and unfortunate events.”

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