More than two years before he allegedly shot and killed a Gwinnett County police officer, prosecutors argued Tafahree Maynard belonged behind bars.
The Snellville teen faced three charges of battery and boasted about starting his own gang, newly released court documents revealed. Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter said his office sought to classify Maynard as a “designated felon,” placing him under state jurisdiction where he would be eligible for stiffer penalties than available locally.
Porter said Maynard would’ve likely been incarcerated for up to 24 months had his case been turned over to the state.
Gwinnett Juvenile Court Judge Robert Waller opted instead to place Maynard on probation for two years, a decision that has come under scrutiny following the death last month of Officer Antwan Toney. Maynard allegedly shot the 30-year-old officer four times, escaping into the woods and setting off a two-day manhunt that ended in his death following an armed confrontation with Gwinnett police.
“There was no way of knowing he’d shoot a police officer, but it was reasonable to predict he was going to shoot somebody,” Porter said.
Maynard was 16 years old when Gwinnett school police arrested him in July 2017 following a series of incidents at Shiloh High. Court documents reveal that he orchestrated several videotaped “beat-ins,” or initiations as part of his role leading the Cut Throat 53 gang, thought to be responsible for numerous crimes in the area.
Maynard said he fought in the school’s restroom because he was “disrespected,” according to the court documents.
“Nothing in his file would’ve indicated that he was a good candidate for probation,” Porter told The AJC.
Waller has declined interview requests, citing rules against commenting on specific cases.
In March 2017, prosecutors unsuccessfully argued to have Maynard’s probation revoked after he posted videos on Instagram in which he’s seen making gang signs.
Five months later, upon recommendation by his probation officer, Waller found that Maynard had made “satisfactory adjustment” and terminated his probation after less than one year, court documents state.
Maynard’s run-ins with the law continued, however. He was being investigated for theft by receiving marijuana and a gang-related burglary at the time of his death, Porter said.
“It’s impossible to say whether a stronger intervention would’ve helped him,” he said. “But no one should be surprised that he committed a violent crime.”
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