DeKalb officer stable as police investigate how prisoner shot him

The DeKalb police officer who was shot while transporting a prisoner was in stable condition Friday as police continue to investigate how the officer lost his gun to the handcuffed prisoner.

The shooting happened Thursday night when Detective Phil Cristy, a 25-year veteran, was escorting prisoner Miguel Benton, a 19-year-old who had been arrested on armed robbery charges, from magistrate court.

Benton somehow got Christy’s .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol and shot the officer in the thigh and the wrist before Christy’s partner, Detective Eddie Stubbs, shot and killed the prisoner, said Cedric Alexander, the county public safety director.

Alexander stressed the shooting was still under investigation and provided scant details but promised the department would be fully transparent about how the episode occurred.

On Friday, however, he was unable to say whether Benton had been handcuffed in front or behind his back or where he was shot. He did not know when Stubbs, an 11-year veteran, and Christy would be formally interviewed by the departmental internal affairs and shooting teams, although he did say both officers were cooperating.

Alexander, however, said he may advocate a change in policy to allow magistrate hearings to be held at the jail, as they are in Fulton and Gwinnett counties, so different police agencies wouldn’t need to escort prisoners in unsecured public space to the court.

“We’re going to look at that much closer,” he said. “I think it certainly would have a great benefit.”

The shooting took place on the steps of the DeKalb Magistrate Court at 8:30 p.m. He has said that Stubbs' quick reaction likely saved lives.

“The robbery suspect could have continued to fire,” he said Thursday night. “Fortunately, one of our detectives was able to respond and to secure the scene by firing on the subject and making the scene safe for the public and the (wounded) officer.”

Benton had a history of armed robberies, while Christy has an “impeccable record,” Alexander said.

Benton was arrested on Wednesday after police responded to a robbery report at 1031 Holcombe Road. A man and a woman reported they were robbed at gunpoint by two men of a wallet and a cellphone outside the townhomes.

Police became suspicious the robbers were hiding in an apartment, where they arrested Benton and four other men.

A search of the apartment turned up two pistols, a Sig Sauer P38 and Bryco Arms, one of the “Saturday Night Specials” class of guns. Both pistols had chambered rounds.