Atlanta attorney Claud “Tex” McIver surrendered to authorities Wednesday night after Atlanta police charged him with involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct in the shooting death of his wife, businesswoman Diane McIver.
McIver shot his wife in the back as the couple rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park, late on the night of Sept. 25. He was in the back seat and she in the front when his .38-caliber revolver discharged. She died later that night at the hospital.
McIver has said the shooting was an accident. Atlanta police have been investigating for the better part of three months.
McIver turned himself in about 8 p.m. Wednesday and he was being held without bond pending his first court appearance Thursday morning.
The involuntary manslaughter charge is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. The reckless conduct charge is a misdemeanor.
Despite the criminal charges, those closest to the McIvers called the shooting a tragic accident involving a happy couple.
“This has completely destroyed his life,” John “Spike” McIver, Tex’s brother, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution this morning. “This was his life mate. They were inseparable. This was a horrible accident.”
Spike McIver, who lives in Florida, said his brother called him Tuesday night to say that he’d heard the warrants were being issued and that he was trying to arrange for booking at the jail.
“He’s very depressed about it,” McIver said of his brother. “He keeps getting hit over and over from one direction and another. … He’s upset that this is occurring on Christmas week. They could’ve waited, but they work in strange ways.”
McIver’s attorney, Steve Maples, told the AJC that the charges don’t make sense to him.“We’re very, very disappointed,” Maples said. “We feel it was an accident. Hopefully the grand jury would dismiss it when they hear the evidence.“
He was not doing anything in a reckless or negligent manner.”
He described his client as “very, very embarrassed and very, very disappointed” by the charges.
“Tex said this was the second worst day of his life,” Maples said.
Maples has acknowledged that McIver pulled the trigger on the .38 short barrel pistol, that the gun did simply “go off” as McIver’s spokespeople had said earlier. But the shot was still an accident, Maples said.
He also noted that neither of the charges suggests that McIver had any malice toward his wife nor any intent to cause her harm.
Doubts in the community
Atlanta civil rights activist Joe Beasley said Wednesday evening he thought the investigation took too long, and he believes the police should have brought more serious charges against McIver.
He said explanations from McIver and those around him did not make sense, and he found other aspects of the story strange, such as McIver’s decision to sell off his wife’s clothes so soon after her death.
In addition, Beasley said, he was offended by early accounts in which a McIver spokesman said that McIver initially pulled out the gun because he thought he had driven into a Black Lives Matter rally.
Atlanta criminal defense attorney Don Samuel said Wednesday he didn’t think the investigation took too long.
“Maybe they were looking at something more serious or whether it was intentional,” Samuel said.
The charges somewhat change the public discussion on this case. It is no longer about whether McIver meant to shoot his wife. The authorities are not asserting that.
“Reckless conduct is the opposite of ‘meant to shoot her,’” Samuel said. “The allegation is that he was reckless and not careful.”
He added, “It must have been the way he was handling the gun. Presumably the method of handling the gun was reckless and resulted in the death.”
‘Would not hesitate to be a witness’
Tex McIver had planned to spend Christmas in Texas with his mother, said Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, a longtime friend of McIver.
“Obviously I’ve been sorry about this from the start,” Sills said. “It’s a tragic situation that continues to be tragic.”
Andrew Ward, a longtime friend of McIver’s, said Wednesday that the couple adored each other. “This was a tragic accident. If it has to go through court to prove that, so be it,” said Ward, who has known McIver for more than a decade. “He meant no harm to Diane. … I would not hesitate to be a witness in court to support their wonderful relationship.”
Thursday will be McIver’s 74th birthday, his lawyer said.
Earlier this month, thousands attended the estate sale of Diane McIver, purchasing her fur coats, designer jewelry and hats from a Buckhead showroom.
Maples, the attorney, previously said the proceeds would be used to cover some $350,000 in bequests that Diane McIver left in her will to friends and employees.