A Flowery Branch man was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in an October standoff with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Skyler Summerour, 24, was acquitted on Feb. 28 by a Hall County jury of the most serious violent felony stemming from the Oct. 16 incident, but convicted of felony obstruction.
Superior Court Judge Jason Deal said the situation was “unfortunate,” but that another deputy might have used deadly force in the same scenario.
“We wouldn’t be having a trial; we’d be having a funeral,” he said at the Tuesday hearing. “I hate that it turned out this way, but in the grand scheme of things it could have been far worse.
“It’s not that you’re a bad guy, but your actions that day were highly risky,” Deal added.
Summerour was indicted on charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, felony obstruction of an officer and failure to maintain lane after allegedly “producing” his handgun to a deputy attempting to speak with him in his residence. He was found not guilty on the traffic charge and assault charge.
The deputy, Cpl. Stan Watson, later said in a court hearing that Summerour had “shown” his gun, but did not take it out of the holster.
Accounts of the incident were contentious from the beginning, but all began with Summerour pulling up to his home on Windfield Road and entering the house, Watson trailing him, after not pulling over on an attempted traffic stop.
The defendant’s mother, Jackie Summerour, let Watson inside and was an eyewitness to the basement confrontation. She testified the Glock-47 was in her son’s hip holster but never in his hand.
At his sentencing for the obstruction charge, which carries a minimum one-year sentence and maximum five-year sentence, family and friends described a man who was soft-spoken, hard-working and had no history of violence or aggressive tendencies.
“He’s a good kid. I think he could be a good man given the chance,” family friend Cary Morgan said.
But Deal said Summerour’s demeanor and lack of explanation for his actions were confusing and alarming.
“I don’t know what was going on in your head, but some of your testimony didn’t make sense,” Deal said. “I don’t really think you intentionally lied to me necessarily. I just question — what was going on?”
Assistant District Attorney Shiv Sachdeva asked for a three-year period of incarceration, saying the state was “satisfied with the jury’s verdict” because the aggravated assault was “always on the lower end.”
“If it’s a lower-end aggravated assault, it’s a higher-end felony obstruction,” he said.
Summerour’s attorney Jed Carter said the jury’s acquittals were as telling as the conviction, and that the deputy’s aggressive actions were “disturbing.”
Carter asked Deal for a noncustodial sentence through the first-offender statute or a probation sentence.
Barring that, he asked for a work-release sentence or prisoner work camp.
Deal said the nature of the crime made Summerour ineligible for a low-security facility.
“They’re not going to take you at work release when they called the SWAT team,” he said. “I know the warden at the correctional institute. I know he won’t take someone that was in that situation.”
Deal also sentenced Summerour to pay a $2,500 fine, perform 100 hours of community service and stay away from drugs and alcohol and ordered Summerour to undergo a mental health evaluation, suggesting it had perhaps been overlooked as a factor.
Summerour told Deal he had seen a psychiatrist for six years, and took medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The situation has been “devastating” for the family, Jackie Summerour said, as the close-knit family sat shoulder-to-shoulder from one end of the court to the other.
“I am a mother whose heart has been ripped out and stomped on,” she said, when Sachdeva questioned her about Facebook posts criticizing Deal.
Deal said he didn’t take negative feedback personally, and that the case had been frustrating for all parties involved.
“I’m sure that if everybody looked at what has happened, they would go in and change things,” he said, including Watson.
He voiced his concern at Watson’s decision to enter the basement alone and confront Summerour on the afternoon in question.
“That was probably not the smartest thing to do in retrospect,” Deal said. “I’m not saying you did anything wrong ... but in retrospect, that could put yourself in a dangerous situation.”
Summerour, who has been held at the Hall County Jail since his conviction, was taken back to the jail to await further evaluation and committal to a state prison.