A Stockbridge man shot by police who had been dispatched to the wrong house died Thursday afternoon, a relative told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Brother-in-law Clifton Worn said William David Powell, shot in the neck by an officer, was pronounced dead around 4 p.m. at Atlanta Medical Center.
Henry County police were responding to a call to 911 reporting gunshots and a woman crying for help. A preliminary review of the 911 call indicates “the officers were at the wrong location,” said Scott Dutton, spokesman for the GBI, which is investigating the shooting.
According to police, Powell ignored orders to put down his handgun. One of the officers then fired at the homeowner, who had just emerged from his garage.
A neighbor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that police didn’t do a good enough job identifying themselves.
“I think the police should identify themselves more if they show up at someone’s house in the middle of the night, instead of just shining lights in their windows,” said Darrell Cooper, who has known Powell for at least 30 years. “He’s a fine man.”
Cooper did not witness the shooting.
The argument that prompted the initial call to 911 at 11:54 p.m. Tuesday took place at a neighbor’s house — where, it turns out, no shots had been fired, Dutton said. The operator was never given an exact address even after contacting the caller a second time, he said.
“Something got lost in communication,” Dutton said.
Powell, according to his mother-in-law, Geraldine Huey, had gone outside to investigate a possible intruder.
“He went to see what the dogs were carrying on about,” said Huey, 85, who lives next door. “He (picked) up his gun and when he got to the gate, they shot him.”
She said she heard a “racket” at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday. But when she couldn’t see any activity she went back to bed.
She woke up to see numerous police cars surrounding the home in the 600 block of Swan Lake Road.
“Every tree was lit up,” Huey said.
She tried to call her daughter’s house but couldn’t get through. Then she went outside but the police wouldn’t allow her access to her daughter.
“It’s a big mess,” she said. “Police evidently thought they had the right house.”
Powell is an Air Force veteran with three grown children, according to his mother-in-law.
“He worked all his life. Went to school,” she said. “Just somebody you’d really like to know. He’s right here for me any time.”
No officers were injured in the incident. The officer who shot Powell was placed on paid administrative leave, Henry police Capt. Joey Smith said.
Dutton said much remains unclear about Powell’s shooting.
“The sequence of events, who knew what first, is still being sorted out,” he said.
When asked her reaction to what happened, Huey told an AJC reporter, “It’s better that I keep that to myself.”
It was the second officer-involved shooting in the last month on Swan Lake Road. On May 14, Henry police, responding to a report of domestic violence, fatally shot a man who, earlier that evening, had shot at, but missed, his father.
Cooper said the neighborhood was generally a safe one, populated mainly by older residents.
Wednesday morning’s “wrong address” shooting was the second such incident in less than a year. Last August, a DeKalb County officer shot a fellow officer and a homeowner after police were dispatched to the wrong location on a reported burglary call.
And in 2006, 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston was shot and killed when a group of undercover Atlanta police detectives forced their way into her home and she fired a warning shot at them. The detectives were acting on faulty information that illegal drugs would be found at the home. The officers were sentenced to prison for attempting to cover up the botched raid.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.