Claud “Tex” McIver and his wife Diane, are shown in undated family photos. Atlanta attorney Claud “Tex” McIver told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today that he accidentally shot and killed his wife as they rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park September 25th. Asked by a reporter if he purposely shot Diane McIver, Tex McIver responded, “I absolutely did not. She was my life partner. My life as I know it is ruined because of this accident.” FAMILY PHOTO

Tex McIver says shooting his wife was accident

“If I’m not feeling guilty, I’m feeling grief”

Atlanta attorney Claud “Tex” McIver told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Thursday that he accidentally shot and killed his wife as they rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park.

Asked by a reporter if he purposely shot Diane McIver, Tex McIver responded, “I absolutely did not. She was my life partner. My life as I know it is ruined because of this accident.”

His exclusive phone interview with the AJC marked his first public comments since the shooting on Sept. 25.

Police have said very little about the case, involving a prominent Atlanta couple. Their investigation is ongoing. Legal experts have said Tex McIver could face criminal charges, even if the shooting was accidental.

RELATED: McIver shooting a tale of love, class, race

In a wide-ranging interview with the AJC on Thursday, McIver’s attorney Stephen Maples contradicted several parts of an early version of the story - put out by a family spokesman - including the couple’s fear of Black Lives Matter protesters.

Bill Crane had told the newspaper last week that Tex and Diane McIver became alarmed when their SUV was approached by several individuals. They were also worried about unrest surrounding recent Black Lives Matter protests in the area, Crane said.

But Maples said Thursday the couple were not thinking of Black Lives Matter, or anything racial, when they decided to pull out their .38 snubnosed revolver from the center console of their SUV. They merely saw some people milling about in an area known to have homeless people, and took a cautionary measure, Maples said.

Maples said that the couple were driving home to Buckhead from their other home in Putnam County when they pulled off I-85 onto Edgewood Ave. due to traffic. McIver was in the back seat. He awoke saw some people milling about and asked his wife in the front seat to retrieve the gun, Maples said. He said homeless people have been known to hang out under the overpass there.

Soon after he fell back to sleep, the gun in a plastic bag in his lap.

He was jarred awake near Piedmont Park, Maples said.

McIver told the AJC, “I was suddenly awoken. I lurched and the gun fired.”

He added, “I must have forgotten it was in my lap. I saw a flash.”

He said it was an accident and that he loved his wife, president of Corey Airport Services, a marketing and advertising company.

“There’s nothing I want to do but join her,” he said.

The grief is overwhelming, he said.

“I’m down to crying 25 times a day,” he said. “If I’m not feeling guilty, I’m feeling grief.”

Also on Thursday, Maples said Crane, the family spokesman, had been incorrect when he said that the couple had not been drinking. At dinner, Diane McIver ordered a bottle of red wine. She drank about two glasses and her husband drank less than a half glass.

In addition, he said Crane was incorrect when he said that the gun went off after the couple’s vehicle hit a bump on Piedmont Avenue. There is a slight depression in the road there, said Maples, but it is unclear exactly what happened to jar McIver awake.

Maples showed the AJC a copy of the police search warrant to examine the McIver’s vehicle. The search warrant had a line that asked for the name of the “law being violated,” and typed there was “Involuntary manslaughter - felony.”

Maples downplayed the importance of the listing, saying the police have to put something in that space in order to obtain the search warrant. He did not take it to represent the direction of the investigation.

Tex McIver took a polygraph test Wednesday - arranged by his lawyer - which indicated that he was truthful when he said that the shooting was an accident, said Richard Rackleff of Federal Polygraph Associates.

“It clearly shows on the chart that he was being truthful,” said Rackleff. He added, “Unquestionably it’s a total accident.”

Rackleff had administered a polygraph to Richard Jewell after the Centennial Olympic bombing during the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. That test indicated Jewell was not the Olympic bomber, he said.

Maples also told the AJC that he suspects the Atlanta police investigation is winding down does not believe McIver will be criminally charged. The Atlanta police contacted Maples days ago and asked for Diane McIver’s various phone numbers. While he has no knowledge of where the investigation stands, he said he took that to mean the police may well be putting the last touches on the case.

As for any criminal charges, he said that McIver was not acting in an reckless or criminal way.

“He was not toying with the gun. He was not playing with the gun,” Maples said.

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