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Friends say violence wasn't in nature of man shot by police near hospital
Adam English.jpg
Adam English

Friends of Adam Paul English, a 21-year-old Oakwood man shot and killed by police Sept. 20, described him as a “beautiful soul” who they believe did not want to cause anyone harm.

Hall County 911 received multiple calls that Friday afternoon reporting a man waving a gun on Jesse Jewell Parkway near the Northeast Georgia Physicians Group surgical associates building. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation later said English was told by Gainesville police officers to drop a weapon but did not comply.

The 911 tape obtained by The Times the following week, however, makes it unclear whether English was still holding the gun or had already put it in a bag at his feet when police opened fire.

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An investigator photographs the contents of a bag at the scene of an officer-involved shooting Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in which Adam English died. - photo by Nate McCullough

Dalton Watkins lived with English for a few years and had known the man since his early teenage years, playing football together in the neighborhood. English had become more like a brother to him, Watkins said.

“If he had a gun, I don’t feel like he would go out and hurt nobody. We had big arguments and he not one time wanted to put his hands on me or any of that. He’s not that type of person,” Watkins said.

A gun was located at the scene, according to the GBI, but where exactly has not been disclosed. Crime scene officials were photographing inside a white bag but Gainesville Police would not release any information about its significance to the case.

A family member confirmed to The Times that English was in the area around lunch time that day for addiction rehab, and in the past few months, he had been wanting to get help.

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In this screen grab made from a video provided to The Times via its Facebook page, Gainesville police officers can be seen approaching Adam English as he stands with his back to them on Sept. 20 just off Jesse Jewell Parkway. This image is less than a second before officers opened fire. Seven seconds earlier, a 911 caller reported that English had put the gun in the white bag that can be seen at his feet. Whether he actually did, or whether the officers were relayed this information is unclear.

Watkins said he spent time with English about three weeks before the shooting. Watkins considered English to have a “beautiful soul” and was someone who would give the shirt off his back. But English didn’t seem like himself recently, he said.

“It just seems like he was not really giving up, but it was like he was losing hope,” Watkins said.

Angela Hicks, who knew English through his cousin, said English could “always put on a smile on his face and everything no matter what he was going through.”

Having lived next door to English for a while, Crystal Martinez described him as “a big teddy bear” who was very outgoing and always willing to help somebody.

“I just know he was a good person. He had a drug problem just like a lot of people do,” Martinez said.

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A police officer puts up crime-scene tape around the scene of an officer-involved shooting in Gainesville in front of Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. - photo by Nate McCullough

Watkins said his friend’s involvement with drugs was off and on over the years.

“I feel like he (went) down the wrong path. I guess God was calling him home,” Watkins said.

Police initially reported three people — English and two Gainesville police officers — were taken to the hospital following the shooting, but the officers were being evaluated per protocol, according to authorities, and were uninjured. 

A GBI report released Sept. 26, said officers Jonathan Fowler and Jose Hernandez fired their weapons. Both are patrol officers who have served with the department for one year and four years respectively.

A total of five officers can be seen approaching English in a video of the shooting provided to The Times.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said it may be weeks until the GBI turns over its findings to him for review.

911 calls reporting gunman in front of hospital

The Times requested and was provided the recordings of two 911 calls made during the incident on Sept. 20, 2019, near the Northeast Georgia Medical Center on Jesse Jewell Parkway in which 21-year-old Adam English was killed by Gainesville police.
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