Jonathan Ayers, pastor at Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, Georgia, died after the incident Tuesday afternoon in the nearby town of Toccoa, Georgia, police said. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is looking into the shooting.
An undercover drug task force team had set up an operation at a local business, and had a woman under surveillance -- someone they had bought drugs from on two previous occasions, GBI spokesman John Bankhead told CNN Thursday.
The officers saw the woman in a car with Ayers and saw what they believed was a drug transaction, Bankhead said. They followed the car as Ayers dropped the woman off at a gas station.
The undercover officers wanted to question Ayers about what they had just seen, he said. "They approached the vehicle. They were in plain clothes. They identified themselves as police officers, which civilian witnesses say happened. They also had badges around their necks."
Ayers put the car in reverse and backed up, striking an officer, Bankhead said.
According to Bankhead, Ayers then put the car into drive, and another officer fired into the car, hitting Ayers, because he thought his life was in danger.
"The subject kept going and drove off," Bankhead said. "And later he ran off the road. He was taken a local hospital, went into surgery and died an hour later."
Video at link - recommended viewing:Police later determined what they had seen was not a drug transaction, but "other circumstances were involved, and that's part of the investigation," Bankhead said.
The woman who was in the car with Ayers was taken into custody and faces drug charges, Bankhead said.
Stephens County sheriff Randy Shirley has placed both officers involved in the incident on paid administrative leave, he said. The officer that was struck by the car was treated and released at a local hospital.
No drugs and nothing else illegal was found in Ayers' car, Bankhead said, "even though what occurred would make any undercover officer working drugs think that was a possibility. I can't get into that, but that's what we're looking at."
Before he died Wednesday, with bullet wounds to his liver, pastor Jonathan Ayers asked paramedics who shot him.http://www.ajc.com/news/family-130662.htmlAyers’ brother-in-law Matt Carpenter believes these words mean one thing -- that the Lavonia minister did not know he was being approached by law enforcement and that he inadvertently stepped into the middle of their drug investigation.
“I think it scared him,” when the black Cadillac Escalade pulled next to Ayers’ car and two men got out with guns drawn, said Carpenter.
Carpenter said that’s why he tried to speed away.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation is examining the fatal shooting. The two plain-clothes officers -- both members of a northeast Georgia tri-county drug task force -- are on administrative leave.
“I’ve rerun it in my mind,” Carpenter said. “He had used an ATM inside, got into his car and then a black Escalade pulled up and [they] jumped out ... If they ID’d themselves, he couldn’t hear them because his windows were up.”
GBI spokesman John Bankhead said witnesses heard the two men identify themselves as law enforcement officers.
The sheriff also told reporters the agents “yelled, ‘Police. Stop.’ ”
Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley said the shooting came after Ayers hit one of the agents with his car as he backed up. The second one shot Ayers because the 29-year-old minister had maneuvered his car toward him in a “threatening manner,” Shirley said.
Ayers was able to drive away from the Shell station but crashed into a utility pole a short distance away. It was there that Ayers, according to Carpenter, asked paramedics “Who shot me?”
Here is what I don't get.
1) If you watch the video, the officer clearly runs behind the car as it is backing up.
2) There is no sound but the officers saw him come out of the store unarmed.
3) The officers were in plain clothes.
4) This is the big one in my mind - The officers open fire during a drug bust on a single unarmed man being taken by suprise. I guess they couldn't get a plate number?
5) What kind of a rinky-dink undercover operation is this? Isn't it a better idea to follow people, identify them and move on up the dealer chain? Isn't that what undercover is supposed to do? I guess I need a LE opinion on this but since when to plain clothes (in the middle of an investigation) make arrests while swooping in guns drawn? Don't you use regular popo for that or SWAT or something?