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SANDERSVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Washington County judge comes closer to making a decision of whether three former sheriff’s deputies were defending themselves when they tased a man to death.
The former deputies say they are innocent and seeking immunity. However, many see this as a case of white officers using deadly force against a black man.
“As me being a black man, residing in this county, that could have been me,” said Leonard Jordan, a family friend of the victim. “That could have been my nephews or one of my cousins. So I really think it’s ridiculous. That should have never transpired.”
Thursday morning, state defenders representing 58-year-old Eurie Martin brought forth evidence in an immunity hearing.
The former Washington County sheriff deputies say they acted in self-defense two years ago when they tased Martin.
The incident was caught on camera.
Lawyers for the former deputies argue that Martin resisted arrest and threw punches toward the deputies. Witnesses say that never happened, and there is video to show proof.
“Did you see any indication of a serious violent crime,” the state defender asked.
GBI agent John Durden replied, “no.”
Durden says earlier in 2017, before the incident, he taught the former deputies in his de-escalation class.
“Our protocol is we tase twice then we move on and do something different,” Durden said.
Durden says he taught that same protocol to the former deputies – Michael Howell, Rhett Scott, and Henry Copeland.
Their lawyers say the former deputies used their training techniques and weren’t in the wrong. They argue that Martin caused the incident to escalate.
“They had the right based on reasonable suspicion, based on the person who he [Martin] had just been on the property of, and observed him walking on the road,” Lawyer Pierce Blitch said.
The two parties meet next Wednesday. During the meeting, the lawyers and state will give their briefs to the judge to decide whether the former deputies will receive immunity.
The trial will begin Dec. 9 if the judge doesn’t find that they acted in self-defense.