191003_tmg_POLICECARMUG_0002.jpg

A police car parked on College Avenue in Athens, Georgia on Thursday, October 3, 2019. (Photo/Taylor Gerlach)

On Oct. 14, Senior Athens-Clarke County Police Officer Lamar Glenn was responding to a suspicious person call on Chalfont Drive when the suspect, Bonny Thomas, brandished a knife at him, according to an ACCPD statement. Glenn asked Thomas to drop the knife, but Thomas charged at him.

Glenn, “fearing for his life,” shot Thomas in the torso, the statement said. Police administered first aid to Thomas until emergency medical services arrived and transported her to a local hospital, where she died.

At a press conference later that day, ACCPD Chief Cleveland Spruill said Thomas did “indicate that she had a knife and a gun” to the officer. Police recovered a knife at the scene, he said. The incident occurred shortly after 10 a.m. on the 100 block of Chalfont Drive in northwest Athens. Police believe Thomas lived in the apartments on Chalfont Drive.

This is ACCPD’s fifth officer-involved shooting this year. Less than two weeks ago, on Oct. 5, an officer shot a 28-year-old man on Baxter Drive who wielded a machete at officers. The man, Salvador Salazar, remained in serious condition on Oct. 9 — ACCPD did not provide any updates as to the man’s condition at the Oct. 14 press conference.

According to data from ACCPD’s Transparency in Policing, ACCPD used lethal force just twice between 2015-2018.

On Oct. 16, ACCPD released body cam footage of Salazar being shot from the perspective of officer Roger Williams. In the video, Williams asks Salazar what he is doing and demands he take his hand out of his pocket. As Salazar begins to walk away, Williams orders Salazar to stop several times.

Williams continues to follow Salazar before Salazar turns and swings at Williams with a machete. Williams fires three shots at Salazar, who falls to the ground.

Police had been dispatched to a domestic violence call on Baxter Drive, according to an ACCPD release. Salazar was reportedly involved in the domestic violence incident.

Per ACCPD policy, the officers involved in both recent shootings have been placed on paid administrative leave, and the GBI has taken over the investigation into the incidents.

In early July, a 23-year-old man was shot and killed by police after he charged officers with a knife — ACCPD released body cam footage of that incident, too, showing the man yelling “Do it” and “Shoot me” as he attacked an officer.

In April, a “peeping tom” suspect reportedly brandished a shotgun at police before being shot and killed. And in March, seven officers shot and killed a man who appeared to be armed with a gun — the weapon was later found to be an airsoft gun.

In 2018, ACCPD documented 297 total uses of force, a slight uptick from 2015’s 265 incidents. The number of incidents when firearms were presented jumped to 109 in 2018 — the highest and lowest in the three years prior were 84 in 2017 and 53 in 2016.

Dean Dabney, professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Georgia State University, said that although five was “certainly a high number,” the incidents must be viewed in their individual context.

“Use of force incidents are driven by the situations that dictate them,” Dabney said.

Dabney also said Spruill has had a “decidedly transparent orientation” toward such incidents, citing other shootings this year that were followed by press conferences and the release of body cam footage. Spruill has been chief since January after Scott Freeman was ousted from the position last year.

According to a database maintained by The Washington Post, 25 people have been shot and killed by police in Georgia this year.

Recommended for you

(1) comment

Observer

The most important "rising trend" is people who have the audacity to present weapon threats to police. The police are just responding to dangerous aggression.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.