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Hall sheriff’s deputies kill man’s pregnant dog

Major says two who served warrant had to protect themselves

POSTED: June 28, 2008 5:00 a.m.
SCOTT ROGERS/The Times

Franklin Reeves rubs his dog Leonard, who was shot and wounded by Hall County Sheriff's Department officers while serving a warrant for Reeve's nephew Clyde Jess Reeves III, who was not there. One of Reeves' other dogs was killed. Leonard was also wounded. Bullet holes are visible on his left shoulder.

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Hall County sheriff’s deputies were looking for Clyde Jess Reeves III when they walked into a Baker Road home Monday morning, but the beloved dogs of the suspect’s uncle greeted them at the front door.

Franklin Reeves, a 58-year-old Baker Road resident, says he does not know why deputies thought they needed to shoot at his three boxers — killing one and injuring another — but Maj. Terry Conner, commander of Administrative Services for the sheriff’s office, said the two deputies were protecting themselves.

Deputy Scott Sugarman and Cpl. Chris Farmer were looking for Franklin Reeves’ nephew when they walked in Reeves’ mobile home through an open front door at about 8 a.m. Monday morning, according to reports.

Clyde Jess Reeves III, wanted on an aggravated assault charge for stabbing his girlfriend in the leg, was not at the Baker Road residence. Reeves also was wanted on another state arrest order.

Conner said the dogs, which he said were a pit bull mix, charged at the officers.

"The dogs came after a deputy and was growling at them when they ended up having to protect (themselves)," Conner said.

A news release Conner sent out Monday was titled "Deputies Attacked by Dogs Attempting Warrant Service." Conner said neither deputy had been injured in the incident, and Clyde Jess Reeves III was arrested later Monday in Jackson County.

Franklin Reeves says his dogs are harmless, and deputies have been to his Baker Road residence looking for his nephew enough times to know that "they wouldn’t hurt nobody."

"They just came in, next thing I know it was boom boom boom boom boom like that," Franklin Reeves said.

Conner said the two deputies who shot at the dogs had not been out to the Baker Road residence before, and when they knocked on the door and announced their presence, no one answered.

If Clyde Reeves had been in the home, he would not have heard the knocks or the announcement, because he is deaf and mute, Franklin Reeves said. Franklin Reeves did not hear the deputies, because he had fallen asleep. The doors to his home were open when deputies arrived, because he had let his dogs out earlier in the morning, Reeves said.

The dead dog, a female boxer named Betsy, was pregnant when deputies shot her Monday morning, Franklin Reeves said.

Monday afternoon, as Franklin Reeves waited for friends to help him bury her, Betsy lay covered by a white sheet in the middle of Reeves’ bullet-scarred living room floor, still tethered to a homemade fan someone had fashioned out of heavy iron pipes.

Franklin Reeves’ other dogs, two males named Leonard and Homer, stayed close to their owner — Leonard seemingly not phased by the bullet wounds on his front leg.

"I wasn’t mad, I was just hurt. ... That’s like losing one of your kids," Franklin Reeves said with tears in his eyes. "These (are) my loves — this is all I got.

"They killed my Betsy girl; $10 million couldn’t a bought her."

Franklin Reeves said his nephew had not been at the Baker Road residence in a long time when the deputies arrived Monday morning. Clyde Reeves showed up briefly a few weeks ago when he came to get some clothes, Franklin Reeves said.

Jamie Bross, a friend and former neighbor of Franklin Reeves, took off work Monday afternoon to help Reeves bury Betsy.

"He loves his dogs. That’s gonna hurt him right there," Bross said, motioning toward the dead dog. "He’s going to be wrecked over that dog."

"What (deputies) did here, that’s just wrong. ... I think they did it on purpose," Bross said.

Bross described Franklin Reeves as a good guy who "lives like a hermit" and never bothers anyone.

But neighbors told a different story about Franklin Reeves’ nephew. Tommy Waters was relieved to learn of Clyde Reeves’ arrest. Waters said he had not seen Clyde Reeves since the man allegedly stabbed his girlfriend a few weeks ago.

"He needs to be (in jail) for a while," Waters said.

Waters said he heard about 10 gunshots early Monday morning, and figured it had something to do with his neighbor’s nephew.

"I said, ‘Lord, there’s something going on down there,’" Waters said.

Franklin Reeves also talked of his nephew’s troubles, some of which Waters said stemmed from drug use.

"I’ve raised him and raised him and raised him, had to fight him and give him money. ... I’m through with him," Franklin Reeves said.

When told that Clyde Reeves had been arrested off Harmony Church Road in Jackson County, Franklin Reeves responded: "I told them that’s where he’d be, and they didn’t listen to me."

Franklin Reeves said his nephew had been living with his girlfriend on Harmony Church Road.

A June 11 arrest warrant called for the arrest of Clyde Reeves for holding a knife to his girlfriend’s throat and threatening to kill her. The warrant also states that Clyde Reeves stabbed his girlfriend in the knee.

The warrant lists Clyde Reeves’ address as 3601 Baker Road — Franklin Reeves’ residence — but the report also acknowledges that he was living with his girlfriend.

Ever since the warrant was issued, Franklin Reeves said deputies have come out to his house nearly every other day looking for his nephew.

"They come here all the time at two, three in the morning," Franklin Reeves said.

Franklin Reeves said he called the police the last time Clyde Reeves came to his home about two weeks ago, but he said sheriff’s deputies did not come then.

Franklin Reeves’ friends said Monday afternoon that sheriff’s deputies were wrong for shooting at the dogs, and called it "luck" that no children were in the residence when sheriff’s deputies arrived.

Franklin Reeves’ lifelong friend, Benjamin Masters, said someone needed to look into the incident that resulted in Betsy’s death.

Masters said if deputies believed they were going to have to protect themselves against the dogs, then they should have asked Hall County Animal Control to assist them.

"If I went out and shot ... any dog, I’d be in jail," Masters said. "They ought to be investigated."

Waters called the dogs harmless, and said the sheriff’s office should pay for the treatment of the surviving dog’s injuries, which have gone untreated because Franklin Reeves could not afford to pay the costs Monday.

"(Shooting them) was uncalled for," Waters said.

Surrounded by his two surviving dogs on the steps of his mobile home, a visibly upset Franklin Reeves promised the incident would not end with Betsy’s burial.

"These people were wild. ... I’ll fight ‘em till hell freezes over," he said.



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