No charges will be filed against two Gainesville Police officers who fatally shot an Oakwood man in September 2019 on Jesse Jewell Parkway.
Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said Dec. 31, more than a year after the incident, that after reviewing evidence including video and witness statements, he will not pursue charges against the officers.
Adam English was shot around 5 p.m. Sept. 20, 2019, near the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group surgical associates building on Jesse Jewell Parkway after reports he was waving a gun around.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to investigate the police shooting and turned the file over to Darragh’s office for review in late 2019.
“I have concluded that while the death of Adam English was unquestionably tragic, the evidence would not support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt as to Officers (Jose) Hernandez and (Jonathan) Fowler,” Darragh wrote in a letter to the GBI. “Therefore, in good faith as a prosecutor whose obligation it is to seek justice, I have concluded that my office will take no further action on this matter.”
Darragh did, however, say he offered “no opinion as to whether there is any civil liability,” which carries a lesser standard of proof.
English’s parents filed a civil lawsuit earlier this year against the city of Gainesville and the two officers.
According to his letter, Darragh reviewed witness statements from Northeast Georgia Medical Center security officers, people in the surgical associates building and police.
Darragh said English was photographed at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center parking deck stealing a gun from a car.
Witnesses said they saw English at the sign for the surgical center waving the gun around, “pointing it at traffic and his own head and chin.” Blood drawn during an autopsy showed English was under the influence of methamphetamine.
We know credible local information is crucial now more than ever. Times staff was on scene in September at this shooting and has been following the case closely since then, speaking with police, attorneys and those who knew Adam English. Under open records laws, we will be pursuing access to the full investigative file, which we hope to have in the coming days now that the case has been closed. To our subscribers, thank you for your support; it helps us provide this local news. For those interested in becoming part of our mission to provide fair, unbiased coverage of our community, please consider these two options.
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One witness reported seeing the bullets fall out of the gun, which a security guard saw English reloading, according to Darragh’s letter.
A second security guard said he received a call of “shots fired” and a man waving a gun. He later saw English “pacing back and forth with a drooped posture,” according to Darragh’s letter.
“He described that (English) had two bags on the ground, and that he kept fumbling with one of them,” Darragh wrote. (The security guard) did not see (English) put the gun he had away because he … was behind a bush.”
The guard described English’s interaction with law enforcement, saying “you could tell (English) was not wanting to live anymore.”
“(The security guard) said that just prior to the shooting, (English) took one step back with his left foot and ‘squared up’ toward the officers, then went to reach in his bag when shots were fired by the officers,” according to Darragh’s letter. “He heard one of the officers say, ‘Don’t do it,’ prior to the shots.”
Darragh noted in his letter that the gun English had was “first seen by officers after the shooting in the bag (English) had.”
“On (an officer’s) body cam audio someone is heard to say after the shooting, ‘Hey, his gun’s right here, it’s right here in the bag,’” according to Darragh’s letter. “When (another officer) saw the gun later, it was in a black holster laying on the ground near (English) and the bag.”
Hernandez’s body camera “was cut on after the shooting,” but Fowler’s body camera video started when officers were about 7 yards from English. Hernandez said he forgot to turn it on “due to the nature of the incident, but turned it on after he recalled it was off,” according to Darragh’s letter.
Hernandez and Fowler screamed at English to show his hands, but English did not comply, according to Darragh’s letter.
English’s left hand was visible but his right hand was out of the officers’ view.
“There appeared to the (GBI) agent to be a slight movement of (English’s) right hand immediately before shots were fired,” according to Darragh’s letter.
In Fowler’s interview with authorities three days after the shooting, he said English “creeped” him out because of the look on his face. Fowler said he thought English moving his right arm was “like he was going to pull something from his waistband behind him as if he had a firearm or weapon.”
Fowler fired one round of buckshot from a shotgun and chambered another round.
Hernandez also said he believed English was reaching for a weapon and fired his weapon more than once in rapid succession, according to Darragh’s letter.
“The officers lacked any criminal intent in the shooting, it appearing sincerely believing that their safety and the safety of others was in imminent danger,” according to the letter.
This article will be updated.