A Hall County man will not face charges after District Attorney Lee Darragh’s review of a fatal shooting last June in Gainesville.
Darragh wrote a letter to Sheriff Gerald Couch and the investigator in the case saying he would not pursue prosecution of Floyd Rusk in the shooting of Thomas McNulty Jr., 25.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office authorities said the incident was reported after 4:30 a.m. June 4, 2017, at a home on Jet-Wright Road off of Dawsonville Highway.
The Times obtained the letter through an open records request to the sheriff’s office and received the document last week.
In a summary of the facts listed in Darragh’s letter to the sheriff’s office, McNulty shot his then 22-year-old girlfriend, Jessica Rusk in the back. The sheriff’s office said this happened following an argument.
“McNulty immediately thereafter tried to forcibly enter the bedroom occupied by Floyd Rusk and his wife Martha,” according to the letter.
The letter states Floyd Rusk opened the door as his daughter cried for help.
“It is clear from all of the evidence reviewed that in justifiable defense of himself, his wife, his daughter (who had already been shot by McNulty and his infant grandchild in a nearby bedroom, Floyd Rusk shot McNulty twice, once in the upper shoulder and once in the abdomen,” Darragh’s letter stated.
Darragh wrote the evidence showed Rusk “reasonably believed that such force was necessary to defend himself and other persons to prevent death or great bodily injury from McNulty’s imminent use of unlawful force.”
“While it is certainly a tragedy that a young adult like McNulty would lose his life from those gunshot wounds, it is equally clear that Floyd Rusk in inflicting those wounds was not criminally responsible, having acted in justifiable self defense and defense of others,” Darragh wrote.
The sheriff’s office closed the case July 5.
According to the FBI’s crime statistics, there were 331 cases of justifiable homicide in 2016 defined as the “killing of a felon, during the commission of a felony, by a private citizen.”
Firearms were used in 276 of those cases.
“It’s certainly not unheard of. It’s not that rare, just because there are some cases where it’s just apparent from the facts where any lawyer who looks at it and reads the code section on justification in Georgia would have to conclude that it was justified,” said assistant public defender Matt Leipold on the frequency of homicide cases closed out without any arrest or charges.