The DeKalb County police officer shot by a fellow officer during a botched response to a burglary call said he thought he was going to die.
In his first interview since the controversial Aug. 31 shooting, Travis Jones told Channel 2 Action News he and two other officers were dispatched to Boulderwoods Drive and entered a home where the burglary suspect was believed to be.
“We put a lot of trust in our dispatchers that they’re telling us the right information,” Jones said. “99.9 percent of the time that is true.”
When officers got to the rear of the house, they found an unlocked screen and unlocked door and believed an intruder was inside, police previously said. Instead, they were met by a startled homeowner and his dog and shots were fired. Jones and the homeowner, Chris McKinley, were both shot, along with McKinley’s dog, who died at the scene.
“Why did they shoot me? Why did they shoot my dog?” McKinley said as a neighbor rendered first aid.
McKinley and his wife were watching a movie with their 1-year-old son when the officers entered their home. McKinley was treated and released days later from Grady Memorial Hospital.
Within hours of the shooting, Cedric Alexander, DeKalb’s director of public safety, admitted the officers had responded to the wrong house.
The incident — the fourth controversial police shooting in DeKalb in less than two years — renewed scrutiny of the police department and prompted the county to review its when-to-shoot training protocol.
Jones, 22, said he couldn’t discuss specifics of the case, which is now being investigated by DeKalb DA Robert James’ office. But Jones said it was terrifying to enter the home, not knowing what to expect.
“It’s a very hair-raising experience,” Jones said. “You don’t know what the home has in there. You’re going into a home without lights. It could be five, six people hiding in there waiting for that one officer to come in there.”
When he was shot in the hip, Jones said he was focused on surviving for his family. He’ll become a father for the first time in April.
Jones is currently on paid administrative leave while he continues to heal. He said he hopes to return to work in January.
“I’ll come through this,” Jones said. “I’ll be back in uniform.”
The GBI, which was called in to assist with the investigation, continues to look into the incident.
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