A robbery suspect who was involved in a tense standoff with Marietta police on I-75 earlier this year has been cleared in the Walmart heist that prompted the ordeal and traffic nightmare, authorities said Wednesday.
Taylor Alexander Smith-Duffy was arrested March 29 after an hourslong standoff with police on the side of the interstate. Authorities said Smith-Duffy and his gray Honda Civic matched the description of a man who robbed the Walmart near the Big Chicken on Cobb Parkway earlier that morning.
The 25-year-old was ultimately charged with misdemeanor obstruction after refusing to get out of his car during the two-hour standoff, but police never charged him with armed robbery.
Marietta police spokesman Officer Chuck McPhilamy said Wednesday that cellphone records subpoenaed by detectives did not place Smith-Duffy near the store when the robbery occurred.
As a result, he has been cleared as a suspect in the case.
“We take charges like this very seriously and never want to jump to conclusions or charge the wrong individual,” McPhilamy told AJC.com. “That is why the investigation took so long. We can now definitively say there is not probable cause to charge him in connection with the robbery.”
After receiving a call about the robbery and a description of the getaway car, an officer spotted Smith-Duffy on I-75 and tried to stop him. Police said he did not immediately stop, but eventually pulled over between Windy Hill Road and the I-285 interchange.
Officers didn’t approach the car at first, believing the man was armed. Police gave Smith-Duffy verbal commands to get out of the Civic, but he did not comply, McPhilamy said.
“We pull the car over and then it turns into the whole interstate being shut down because the guy won’t get out,” McPhilamy said. “In that moment, officers had to assume that he was a suspect in an armed robbery and had to be considered armed and dangerous. His refusal to come out of the vehicle exacerbated everything.”
The department’s SWAT team was brought in, and after two hours of negotiations, officers were able to arrest Smith-Duffy and reopen the southbound lanes of I-75 for the rest of the morning commute.
Detectives now believe the person who stole $9,000 that morning is responsible for a string of additional Walmart robberies across metro Atlanta, McPhilamy said.
“We do not have any new leads on who the actual perpetrator is,” McPhilamy said. “We are working with the other jurisdictions to see if we can link our investigations.”
Attempts to reach Smith-Duffy for comment weren’t successful Wednesday afternoon.
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