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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – After reviewing initial results of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s probe into an April 27 deputy-involved shooting in Crawford County, Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke announced Tuesday the shooting has been deemed justified.
“Based on my review of the evidence gathered thus far, it is clear that Lt. William Owenby was justified in his actions,” Cooke said. “There will be a complete and thorough investigation, but in a case where the facts are clear, there’s no reason to delay getting this deputy back to work during a time when law enforcement agencies are facing a shortage of officers.”
Cooke said initial findings showed a Crawford County deputy was dispatched to a disturbance at 2570 Richardson Mill Road at about 6:15 p.m. Dispatch was told a man was armed with a firearm and was dangerous. Owenby and another deputy responded as backup units.
Before deputies arrived, dispatch told them that the man, later identified as 33-year-old Jamie Lamar Darley, had left the area in a white Chevrolet truck.
Deputies talked with several members of Darley’s family at the scene who said that he’d consumed a half bottle of liquor and tried to kick in the front door of their home while holding a gun.
One family member said he was nervous Darley was going to shoot through the door and that Darley had threatened to cut the family member’s throat and shoot and kill everyone else inside. Witnesses said Darley fired one or two shots into the air before leaving in his truck.
After learning that Darley had been spotted on Blasingame Road, the deputies left and headed in that direction.
On Taylors Mill Road, Owenby saw a pickup matching the description of Darley’s truck’s traveling in the wrong lane heading toward his patrol vehicle. A second sheriff’s office vehicle was driving behind Owenby.
Owenby activated his blue lights and the truck pulled into the correct lane. The truck stopped and Owenby pulled his patrol vehicle in front of the truck and recognized Darley as the driver.
Darley drove into a ditch and around Owenby’s patrol vehicle before continuing down Taylors Mill Road. Owenby engaged in a pursuit with his lights and sirens activated as Darley led the deputies back to 2570 Richardson Mill Road at speeds as fast as 110 to 120 miles per hour.
Darley tried to block the deputies’ path or run them off the road before parking in front of a shed near the house. After pulling in behind Darley’s truck, Owenby saw Darley running toward his family with a revolver in his right hand.
Cooke says Darley fired one shot toward the deputy, striking a dark-colored truck parked on the property. Concerned for the family’s safety and knowing of Darley’s prior threats to harm them, Owenby fired his service weapon at Darley, wounding him.
Owenby and another deputy rendered aid to Darley, who later died at a local hospital.
After the incident, Darley’s father told the GBI that he witnessed his son exit the truck, point the gun at the deputies and fire one round. Darley’s brother also said he saw Darley point the gun toward the deputies.
“The outcome of this incident was tragic and I’m grateful no victims were injured and that every deputy who responded to the call made it home safely,” Cooke said. “Every law enforcement officer knows that the next domestic violence call they get may be the last one they ever answer. Their work is inherently dangerous and I’m thankful for the sacrifice of all the men and women in law enforcement and how they put themselves on the line for us every day.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Darley’s family at this difficult time,” Cooke said.