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Deputies used stun gun before shooting assault suspect

POSTED: December 9, 2013 10:33 a.m.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies tried to subdue a machete-wielding assault suspect with a stun gun before shooting him Sunday morning, said Sgt. Mark Mitchell, sheriff’s office spokesman.

When deputies arrived in the 2000 block of Sailors Avenue around 7:10 a.m., Justin Matthew Bennett, 27, had already injured three people, according to the sheriff’s office.

“They encountered Bennett in the roadway in front of a mobile home park,” Mitchell said. “Bennett began swinging a machete at the deputies and he continued to swing the machete at deputies as he moved to (the 2100 block of) Grant Street.”

“The responding officers used less lethal tactics that failed to stop Bennett’s aggressive behavior,” states a sheriff’s office news release. “When Bennett failed to cease his aggressive behavior, an officer was forced to shoot.”

Deputies had fired a Taser at Bennett three times, as well as a nonlethal beanbag, Mitchell said.

Grant Street and Sailors Avenue are near Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway and across from the Chicopee Mill Village community. Bennett lived on Grant Street, Mitchell said.

Bennett, who has an injury that is not life-threatening, was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where he was treated, then released into sheriff’s custody.

He has since been charged with four counts of aggravated assault on peace officers and one count of felony obstruction. He is being held without bond in the Hall County Jail.

The three victims — one of whom was physically attacked, but not with the weapon — suffered injuries that also weren’t life-threatening, Mitchell said.

“The extent of the relationship between the suspect and the victims is not known at this time,” he said.

The incident remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office.

Following protocol in any officer-related shooting, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating.

Also, as is customary, the deputy has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the completion of the GBI’s investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.

The officer’s name is being withheld pending the probe, Mitchell said.

The Times has filed an open-records request to obtain the incident report.

Sherry Lang, GBI spokeswoman, confirmed Sunday the agency had been requested to investigate the shooting.

When the probe is finished, findings will be turned over to the Hall-Dawson District Attorney’s Office, she said.

Lang wouldn’t comment further.


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