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DA report: Officers justified in shooting man who took hostages at clinic
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Two women are escorted away from the scene of an officer-involved shooting at Lanier Dermatology in Sherwood Plaza on Monday, Jan. 14. A man is dead after being shot by police officers responding to a report of a gunman at Lanier Dermatology on South Enota Drive in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

The 62-year-old man who held hostages at a Gainesville dermatology clinic turned and pointed his gun at a Gainesville Police sergeant prior to being shot to death in January, according to the district attorney’s review of the incident.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh found the officers were justified in their actions.

According to Darragh’s letter to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Rodney Hamilton, of Dahlonega, entered Lanier Dermatology Clinic on South Enota Drive on Jan. 14 with a loaded handgun and asked to be seen by two members of the staff.

Hamilton had been a patient at the clinic but had “continued to claim a disorder involving bugs in his skin,” according to Darragh’s letter. 

“At one point a biopsy was performed, which proved negative for the infestation he claimed. He and his family did not accept this result, and Mr. Hamilton continued to demand that he be treated for that which he didn’t have,” according to the letter.

The doctor listed in the report did not return a request for comment from The Times, and multiple attempts to reach the family for comment were unsuccessful. 

When Hamilton was escorted to the office manager’s office, he showed the gun and clicked the safety on and off. No one was allowed to leave the room, and three hostages asked for him to put the gun away to no avail.

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A man is dead after being shot by police officers responding to a report of a gunman at Lanier Dermatology mid-morning Monday in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers

Other clinic employees cleared the rest of the building and called 911. Gainesville Police arrived three minutes later.

A Gainesville Police sergeant put his hands on Hamilton’s shoulder, put a gun in his back and ordered the man to put his gun down, according to the letter.

“Instead, Hamilton turned and pointed the handgun he was wielding at (the sergeant). (The sergeant) could not shoot him at this point, because the hostages were still situated in the room such that he might have shot one of them. Hamilton positioned himself deeper in the room and ordered the hostages to the doorway of the office. One of the two female hostages, at the encouragement of the male hostage, was then able to leave the room,” according to the letter.

Darragh wrote the sergeant told Hamilton to put his gun down “several times, but he didn’t, and pointed it at the hostages.”

Another officer fired a rifle five times at Hamilton when he was able to get a clean shot, Darragh said.

Hamilton was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, where he was pronounced dead. 

The GBI was called at 11:15 a.m. that day to investigate, which is standard in shooting incidents involving officers. Hamilton’s vehicle was also inspected and cleared by the GBI “out of an abundance of caution,” according to the news release.

Darragh filed his letter in April with the GBI after reviewing the evidence in the case, including the 231-page GBI report, hours of interviews and all body cam videos, statements, sketches, photographs and other submitted evidence about the incident.

Darragh said the two Gainesville Police officers’ actions “were clearly and completely justified under the legal standard.”

“Certainly, all situations in which a person’s life has to be taken are tragic. In this particular situation, every possible effort was made to have Mr. Hamilton disarm himself, to no avail. The police had no reasonable choice in this matter other than the actions taken to stop the threat Mr. Hamilton posed,” Darragh wrote.

Darragh also praised the “great bravery and clear heads” of the dermatology clinic’s employees.

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A Gainesville Police officer stands in the doorway of Lanier Dermatology Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, following an officer-involved shooting at the medical office on South Enota Drive in Gainesville. - photo by Scott Rogers
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