“I know there’s a lot going on, but we can work this out,” he later said. “We can work through it.”
Spruill said the officers were exercising “remarkable restraint” in not firing right away when Swinford showed a gun. Eventually, the chief said Swinford raised the airsoft gun toward the officers.
“In fact, at one point, (Swinford) came from around the vehicle walked very quickly toward the officers, and raised his arm on the right side of his body up toward the officers and pointed the gun at the officers,” he said.
Multiple officers on scene feared for their lives and fired, he said. Those officers were identified as Officer C.J. Bidinger, Officer 1st Class William Greenlow, Officer Claude Johnson, Cpl. Alex Leder, Sgt. Jon McIlvaine, Officer Joshua Santos and Officer Roger Williams.
MORE: 7 Athens officers fired weapons at man with airsoft gun
Swinford was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
His family described him as a loving husband and father.
“We just want everybody to know what a loving, kind person he was,” his sister, Traci Day, told Channel 2. “And to remember him that way, not for the way he left us.”
The Athens-Clarke County officers involved in Swinford’s shooting were placed on paid administrative leave until the department completes an internal investigation. The GBI will also conduct its own investigation.
The officer-involved shooting is the 18th the GBI has been asked to investigate in 2019.