Cynthia Daniels cries and is comforted by her son Bobby Daniels Jr. during a news conference on Dec. 23, 2015, in downtown Atlanta. Cynthia Daniels is the widow of Bobby Daniels, who is shown in the photo she clutches. Mr. Daniels was fatally shot by a Douglas County sheriff’s deputy, and the family is disputing law enforcement’s account of the shooting. (Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com)
Photo: Ben Gray
Photo: Ben Gray

911 audio raises new questions about Douglas police shooting

When Douglas County deputies arrived at the Arbor Village Mobile Home Park, they were armed with considerable information about the gun-wielding suspect who had been terrorizing residents on the last Monday before Christmas.

The suspect, later confirmed as 25-year-old Bias Daniels, was thin, sported dreads, and wore a black coat and white tennis shoes with jeans, said Arbor Village’s security guard. He told a 911 dispatcher that the man held him hostage for 45 minutes before he escaped, retreating to his residence.

The deputies also were informed by a relative that Bobby Daniels had been called to the scene in an attempt to calm his son, according to the family’s attorney, Chris Stewart.

“They had a very, very good description of who the assailant was,” Stewart said. “And they knew who Bobby Daniels was and why he was there,” though Douglas County Sheriff Phil Miller said his deputies did not know the elder Daniels’ identity at the time.

Yet it was Bobby Daniels, a Navy veteran and father of five, who was shot and killed by deputies. Now, 911 audio obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution raises new questions about what happened that night in Arbor Village, though it answers few.

The mystery that remains largely involves law enforcement’s account of what led up to the fatal discharge. Their version is further muddied by a second caller to 911, an eventual witness to the deadly encounter.

“Someone over here is trying to shoot my little brother,” the call begins. The AJC, per the request of the GBI, which is investigating the shooting, agreed not to reveal the names and other personal information of the 911 callers.

The second caller said two people — one of them sporting “dreads” and believed to be Bias Daniels — were banging on his door. The witness said his brother was hiding inside, fearing for his life.

Within a minute of his call he spots a white four-door sedan driven by another man, Bobby Daniels, who has pulled alongside the black SUV belonging to Bias. At the time, the witness tells the dispatcher, Bias is outside his front door. It’s unclear whether Bias’ father was sitting in or standing outside his vehicle, though Stewart said he has spoken to other witnesses who said Bobby Daniels was outside.

Sheriff Miller, speaking to reporters the night of the shooting, said all three men — Bias and Bobby Daniels, along with a relative, Garrett Daniels — were sitting inside the white car.

The first man out of the car, believed to be Bias, was holding a gun, which a deputy placed on the hood while attempting to handcuff the suspect, Miller said. A struggle ensued, forcing one of the deputy’s to deploy his Taser. But because of the suspect’s heavy coat, the Taser was useless, the sheriff said.

According to Miller, Bobby Daniels — employed as a security guard at the CNN Center in downtown Atlanta — got out of the car, grabbed the gun from the hood and pointed it at the deputy. Daniels’ family disputes this, saying he was an even-keeled man who would never point a gun at a police officer.

Later, the sheriff acknowledged that the elder Daniels was likely trying to defuse the situation. Despite that, Miller told The AJC two days later that Bobby Daniels ignored commands to stay inside his vehicle and, with a gun pointed at him, his deputy “did what he had to do.”

Stewart notes that within 37 seconds, the second caller sees the deputies arrive and reports shots being fired.

“In between that time they supposedly wrestle the gun away, attempt to handcuff Bias, deploy a Taser, unsuccessfully, then shoot his father. That’s a lot happening in such a short amount of time,” Stewart said.

The GBI has yet another version of what happened. According to investigators, Bobby Daniels and his son were wrestling for possession of the gun when one of the deputies fired the Taser.

“As the fight continued between Bias and Bobby, the handgun was pointed at the deputies, at which point one of the deputies fired, striking and killing Bobby,” the GBI said in a statement.

As for Daniels’ family and their lawyer, “We’re just confused,” Stewart said.

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