For the first time since being shot, a Calhoun police officer spoke to the media about how his faulty cellphone saved his life.
Officer Joe Yother, a 25-year law enforcement veteran, spoke to the Dalton Daily Citizen-News on Wednesday about the cellphone that helped deflect a bullet from hitting him in the chest during an altercation Tuesday afternoon.
“An inch or two one way or another, and I don’t know that I would be talking to you,” Yother, a Dalton resident, told the newspaper. “I have been thanking the Lord many times. You think about it an awful lot when you go through something like that. It isn’t anything but divine intervention.”
Yother was shot at by 27-year-old Tameka LaShay Simpson of Columbus from a parked car outside a BP on South Wall Street in Calhoun, according to the GBI. The bullet ricocheted off his cellphone, hitting him in his arm and likely saving his life.
Yother, along with fellow officer Jeremy Thompson, returned fire, shooting and killing Simpson, the GBI said.
Before the incident, Thompson was helping Jael Estefania De La Rosa Silie, 22, who was short on change at the gas station, the GBI said. Silie got into a car with Simpson, and Thompson said he thought he smelled marijuana coming from the vehicle.
Yother arrived as backup, and when asked for her ID, Simpson reached into the glove box, pulled out a gun and fired at Yother, the GBI said.
Yother told the Daily Citizen the phone was having issues, but he wasn’t able to get a replacement until Wednesday, which is why it was in his chest pocket that day.
Silie was arrested on an unrelated bench warrant for failure to appear on traffic violations, the GBI said.
Yother was taken to Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton and has since been released. The Daily Citizen reported he’s now at home with his new phone, even though he hasn’t forgotten the one that saved his life.
“I know it is in evidence right now, but I want that phone back. That is for sure,” Yother said.
Since Sunday, the GBI has been called to investigate five officer-involved shootings. That includes incidents in Chatham County, Turner County, Bibb County, and DeKalb County. The shooting in DeKalb killed rookie officer Edgar Isidro Flores.
The incident in Calhoun was the 88th officer-involved shooting the GBI has been called to investigate this year. The DeKalb shooting investigation was the 89th, surpassing 2017’s total.
OVER THE LINE: An investigation into police shootings in Georgia
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