Coweta deputy killed after being hit by Alabama officer’s car following chase

‘He’s like family,’ sheriff says about 31-year-old who died after pursuit of stolen car suspect
Coweta County sheriff's Deputy Eric Minix was killed late Wednesday night after a pursuit that ended in Alabama.

Credit: Coweta County Sheriff's Office

Credit: Coweta County Sheriff's Office

Coweta County sheriff's Deputy Eric Minix was killed late Wednesday night after a pursuit that ended in Alabama.

For the second time in less than a week, a metro Atlanta sheriff had the unenviable task of describing one of his deputies who had been killed in the line of duty.

“Eric, he’s like family to each and every one of us,” a tearful Coweta County Sheriff Lenn Wood said during a news conference Thursday afternoon announcing the death of Eric Minix.

The 31-year-old deputy was fatally struck by an Alabama police officer’s vehicle as he got out of his own patrol car following a high-speed pursuit that crossed the state line Wednesday just before midnight, authorities confirmed. The deputy had been involved in a pursuit of a stolen vehicle on I-85 that extended into Chambers County, Alabama.

“He is very much loved,” Wood said. “He is a friend. A father. A son. A brother. But most of all, he was a law enforcement officer first. That’s all he ever wanted to do.”

Last week, Sgt. Marc McIntyre with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office was shot and killed while conducting a wellness check at a home just outside Griffin. His memorial service is Friday.

Minix was getting out of his Dodge Charger with his K-9 after the alleged stolen vehicle, a Dodge Challenger driven by 25-year-old Decedric Donson, had been stopped by a tire-deflation device, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency said in a news release.

At the same time, Officer Cornelius Robinson, 28, of the Lanett Police Department, who had joined the pursuit, was quickly approaching and couldn’t stop before hitting Minix, Wood said, adding that the K-9 was uninjured. Robinson’s Ford Explorer then hit the Charger and the Challenger.

Minix was rushed to East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier, where he was pronounced dead.

Donson was arrested by Chambers County sheriff’s deputies and has been charged with first-degree receiving stolen property and felony attempting to elude. It is not clear where the chase began, but the vehicle was reported stolen out of Douglas County.

Robinson has been placed on administrative leave.

“Our heartfelt condolences are sent to the family and department. Please keep all involved in your thoughts and prayers,” Lanett police said in a statement.

Wood asked the public to also pray for the Lanett officer and everyone involved in the incident.

“What these men and women do each and every day, it’s dangerous,” he said. “Pray for each and every one of them.”

Minix leaves behind his wife, Trina, and three daughters, who are devastated, Wood said.

Minix started his law enforcement career in 2014 with the Coweta sheriff’s office, according to Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council records. He then spent five years with the Tyrone Police Department before returning to the sheriff’s office.

“We send our prayers and condolences to the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the family and friends of Deputy Eric Minix,” Tyrone police said in a statement. “Eric was a friend and brother to us all at Tyrone PD and he will be truly missed.”

While memorial services for Minix have yet to be announced, a service for McIntyre will take place Friday morning at Griffin First Assembly of God.

The day McIntyre was killed, he and another deputy were walking across a yard when Todd Lamont Harper allegedly opened fire from a window, officials said. The 55-year-old was shot in the head and rushed to a hospital, where he died. Harper was taken into custody after an hours-long standoff.

“As our hearts break here in Spalding, we join with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office in mourning the loss of one of their own,” the Spalding sheriff’s office said in a statement. “CCSO Deputy Eric Minix will be missed.”

The last Coweta deputy to die on the job was James Albert Kempson in 1921, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that tracks law enforcement deaths. After just two years of service, Kempson, 39, was fatally shot while attempting to serve a warrant on a man for theft. The suspect shot him five times, then took his service weapon and fired several more times as Kempson lay in a ditch, the organization said. He was taken home, where he died four days later.

Minix is the first Georgia law enforcement officer to be killed on duty this year, according to the memorial page.

News of his death quickly spread throughout the day Thursday. Several law enforcement agencies mourned the loss on social media, including the GBI, Newnan police and the Troup County Sheriff’s Office.

“Our hearts are heavy today as another Georgia law enforcement officer has lost their life in the line of duty,” Troup Sheriff James Woodruff said in a statement. “We send our thoughts and prayers to Sheriff Lenn Wood, the staff of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office and the family and friends of Deputy Sheriff Eric Minix.”

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson also asked for prayers for those affected by Minix’s death.

“My prayers are with the loved ones of Deputy Sheriff Eric Minix of Coweta County ... as they mourn the tragic loss of such a dedicated public servant,” he wrote.

Multiple businesses also shared their condolences.

“Our hearts are broken at the loss of Coweta County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Sheriff Eric Minix,” SweetWater Veterinary Hospital said in a Facebook post. “He was an amazing K-9 officer as well as person, friend, dad. Our flag will be flying at half-staff in his honor.”

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.