The Bibb County District Attorney's office released this photo of Macon Police Officer Clayton Sutton. The photo appears to support his story that he believed Sammie Davis Jr. was slitting his throat with a knife when he shot Davis three times in the chest, killing him.
Cooke Says Davis Shooting 'Tragic...But Justified'
Bibb County District Attorney David Cooke announced Tuesday that the Dec. 21 fatal shooting of Sammie Davis Jr. by a Macon Police officer "while tragic...was justified."
In a noon news conference, Cooke laid out the events of that day from interviews with Officer Clayton Sutton, video from store security cameras, and interviews with witnesses.
Cooke said the evidence indicated Sutton "took the necessary steps to protect both himself" and people in the Kroger parking lot just off Pio Nono Avenue a few days before Christmas.
Cooke said Sutton was respondeing to a call from a female customer of the food store who indicated that a man in the parking lot was acting strangely and had frightened her.
On his arrival, Cooke said Sutton found Davis, 6-feet-2 and 375 pounds, "a mentally ill man" with a 30-year history of schizophrenia who was off his meds.
Cooke said Sutton approached Davis and twice told him to take his hands out of his pockets. Instead of complying, Cooke said, Davis rushed the officer and grabbed him by the neck.
Although Davis was unarmed, his fingernail against Sutton's throat made the officer believe Davis had a knife to his throat, Cooke said.
Cooke said Sutton "made a split-second decision to discharge his weapon" as he was trained to do. He said Sutton fired three times as he was pushed back upon an occupied car, breaking the mirror.
"It would be wrong to pursue criminal charges against the officer," Cooke said. "The shooting, while tragic...and this is tragic for the Davis family...was justified."
Sutton has been on administrative leave since the shooting. Police officials have said Sutton's future with the department, even if he was found to be justified, was in question because of the public debate the case has generated.
The Macon Police Department first launched its own investigation into the shooting and turned over the findings to Cooke's office.
The district attorney immediately announced the case would be given to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which conducted its own probe.
That investigation ended two weeks ago, and the findings were presented to Cooke.
He announced at the time that his office would thoroughly go over the report and look at all the evidence compiled before deciding what to do.
See District Attorney General Cooke’s news conference in it’s entirety here.