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Deputies cleared in fatal officer-involved shooting

Troup County Sheriff’s Office deputies involved in a fatal officer-involved shooting in September have been cleared of any criminal action by Coweta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herb Cranford.

According to a news release from Cranford’s office, Cranford found that officers who used deadly force against Burt were justified in defending themselves after the suspect pointed his firearm at the officers.

On Sept. 5, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called to Riverside Lane in LaGrange by the sheriff’s office to investigate the office’s use of force against Samuel Burt, which resulted in his death. Burt, 65, died at the scene as a result of multiple gunshot wounds.

According to the news release, Burt was living in his sister and brother-in-law’s basement in Troup County. At 2:49 p.m. on Sept. 5, Burt’s brother-in-law called 911 to report that his wife (Burt’s sister) had been shot by Burt. The brother-in-law told 911 that he heard three shots then looked outside to see his wife lying by the pool. He told 911 he saw Burt down by the lake. During the subsequent investigation, a neighbor told the GBI that he heard three gunshots after 2 p.m. and also saw Burt walking with three dogs toward the lake.

Telecommunicators informed responding law enforcement personnel that a suspect had shot his sister, who was not breathing, then ran into woods toward the lake.

When officers arrived on the scene, they saw Burt’s sister on the ground and were told by Burt’s brother-in-law that Burt went toward the dock with a weapon. Officers found Burt on the dock and instructed him to show his hands, but Burt started walking toward the officers, holding a handgun.

Cranford said on the body-worn camera recordings, officers can repeatedly be heard telling Burt to drop his weapon and to put his hands up. At one point, Burt tells the officers that one of his dogs needs to be put down. Law enforcement later discovered that all three of Burt’s dogs had been shot, but one of the dogs was still alive and suffering.

“Despite officers’ repeated efforts to get Burt to drop his weapon, he ultimately raised his handgun and pointed it toward the officers, which can be seen on body-worn video,” Cranford said in the news release. “In response to the immediate deadly threat presented by Burt, multiple officers then fired their weapons at Burt, striking him multiple times, which caused him to fall into the lake.”

Cranford said officers rushed to the water and attempted to save Burt’s life but were unsuccessful.

The GBI contacted Cranford on Sept. 9, to report the incident and to show the body-worn camera video of the use of force. Cranford then requested that the completed investigation be turned over to his office for review.

In the news release, Cranford said the officers did not violate any laws, and he will not present the case to a civil or criminal grand jury. He said the review of the use of force against Burt, and his death, is closed.