Editor's note: The Hall County Sheriff's Office later determined the suspect was Kelly Martinez Nicely, not his twin Keary. Read more about the mistake here.
Authorities believe synthetic drugs may have contributed to the strange behavior Wednesday of a naked man accused of attacking deputies.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived in the Bill’s Circle area of North Hall just before 4 p.m. to find a man they identified as Keary Maurice Nicely, 38, of Gainesville, acting irrationally.
Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, spokesman for the office, said the man quickly became aggressive, forcing the deputies to defend themselves with pepper spray, a Taser and batons, “none of which had any effect on the subject,” according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.
Wilbanks said the man punched the deputies in the face and head. He also noted Nicely was much larger than the responding deputies, at 6 feet 1 inch tall and 225 pounds, and that drugs likely played a role in his resistance to the deputies’ efforts.
Following the initial assault, Wilbanks said Nicely swam into Lake Lanier, where he held onto a nearby dock refusing to come out of the water.
“Once he was out in the water, he was still aggressive, shouting, screaming, talking irrationally, threatening deputies,” Wilbanks said.
At that point, as Nicely was swimming back and forth between shallow water and water 15 or 20 feet deep, authorities were worried the incident could kill someone.
“The depth of the water dropped off fairly sharply so we didn’t want to run the risk of someone being drowned out there, either deputies or the suspect,” Wilbanks said.
More deputies and boats from the Hall County Fire Services and Georgia Department of Natural Resources arrived, but the man still refused to leave the water. Members of the SWAT team then arrived, eventually shooting beanbag rounds, 40 mm foam impact rounds as well as grenades that deploy rubber pellets.
Wilbanks said Nicely would come partly out of the water “taunting the deputies” and rounds were shot at his torso.
Some 45 minutes from the time authorities first arrived on scene the man was arrested, according to the news release.
Two deputies were treated at Northeast Georgia Medical Center for minor injuries Wilbanks described as contusions, abrasions and a split lip.
Nicely also was taken to the medical center, though the sheriff’s office reported he had no major injuries. He was released and then booked Thursday into the Hall County Jail.
“This case is a prime example of the unpredictable and sometimes dangerous work our deputies face every day,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a news release. “They have to be prepared at a moment’s notice to deal with a threat to their own personal safety, all the while keeping the safety of the general public at the forefront.”
The initial investigation into the incident “points to the strong likelihood of synthetic marijuana use,” though the exact cause of the man’s behavior is still unknown, according to the news release.
“If the information developed during the initial investigation holds true, this will be yet another example of the volatility of synthetic drugs and the danger they create for our community,” Couch said.
Nicely is charged with felony obstruction of officers, misdemeanor obstruction of officers, terroristic threats, disorderly conduct and providing false information to officers.