HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html GBI Takes Over Muscogee Shooting Probe
Pubdate: Sun, 14 Dec 2003
Source: Athens Banner-Herald (GA)
Copyright: 2003 Athens Newspapers Inc


Roadside Death

COLUMBUS (AP) -- The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has assumed control of 
the probe into the shooting of an unarmed man by a Muscogee County 
Sheriff's deputy.

Muscogee County Sheriff Ralph Johnson said Friday he almost has finished 
his own investigation of Wednesday night's incident on Interstate 185 in 
which a deputy sheriff shot and killed an unarmed 39-year-old Columbus man.

Even so, Johnson said it is important that an independent agency determines 
if the shooting of Kenneth Brown Walker was justified. Johnson said he 
wants the public to "have the confidence in knowing that I've investigated" 
the shooting, but that he agreed that calling in the GBI was the 
appropriate next step.

Conducting his second news conference in as many days, Johnson would not 
release the name of the deputy Friday. Johnson described the deputy, who is 
on administrative leave, as a veteran of "at least 18 to 20 years of 
service." Johnson said he has not spoken to the deputy.

Two agents from the Greenville GBI post arrived in Columbus Friday 
afternoon to launch the investigation.

Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff, reached by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer 
while vacationing in New York City, learned of the fatal shooting Thursday 
night, more than 24 hours after the incident. The mayor called the shooting 
a "tragedy." "It has to be a clear and honest investigation," Poydasheff 
said. "I trust the sheriff to do the right thing." Walker and three friends 
were pulled over in their gray GMC Yukon Wednesday night.

Officers with guns drawn ordered the four men, "Get on the ground! Get on 
the ground! Get on the ground!" and "Let me see your hands!" Walker's three 
companions apparently complied with the commands, but Walker provided "some 
resistance," according to the sheriff's account. Although Walker was on the 
ground, his right hand couldn't be seen by the officers, Johnson said. The 
deputy fired at least two shots, including the fatal shot to Walker's head. 
No gun was found in the Yukon. Walker died during surgery about 2:25 a.m. 
Thursday. The other three men were released.

On Thursday, Johnson called the incident "a tragic day for the family of 
the deceased and for my office and for the city of Columbus." Walker's 
family and friends say they want to know why he was shot and why they 
didn't find out until nearly four hours later. Mother Emily Walker said she 
was called to the hospital after 1 a.m. Thursday. He died before she and 
Walker's wife located him in the hospital. "There are so many unanswered 
questions," said Emily Walker.
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