News 12 at 11 o'clock, April 4, 2009
WADLEY, Ga.---Family and friends say Jerry Conner was a hardworking man who was celebrating the end of the work week when it suddenly turned violent and police stepped in.
It went out as a domestic call, an argument between Jerry Conner and one of his sons. When Wadley Police arrived they say the situation escalated and the man pulled a knife.
More officers were called to the scene and they say after repeated warnings to drop the weapon, they used force. First a taser and then a gun, shooting Conner at least twice in front of his house. He died at the hospital.
"I was scared to touch him. I didn't want to hurt him, but if I'd known I would never touch him again....and I'll never touch him again," says Tina Conner, her husband was shot and killed.
Family members say Conner had been drinking. They also say he was shot from about 20 feet away and the knife he was holding was a two inch pocket knife.
"I was inside, I didn't see none of it. I just walked outside and he was laying on the pavement bleeding. They shot him three times and they were smiling about it," says Brian Conner, his father was shot and killed.
Wadley Police say Corporal Patrick Paquette was the officer who pulled the trigger.
"Anytime somebody loses their life and an officer's involved, it affects the officer and his family also," says Police Chief Wesley Lewis.
Paquette is a Richmond County Board of Education Officer and a part time K-9 officer for Wadley. Police Chief Wesley Lewis stands by the officer.
"A lot of officers lose their lives on domestic calls because they don't respond to it the right way. It can go from a dispute between family members to turning their aggression towards the officer that responded, which is what happened," says Chief Lewis.
A total of six officers were at the scene at the time of the shooting.
"I don't really believe there was no need in shooting that man...but then again you can't take that chance I reckon," says neighbor Harry Price.
But Conner's family believes the shooting was not necessary.
"My husband didn't deserve to die like that, in the road. My boys didn't deserve to see their daddy die like that in the road. I didn't deserve to see my husband die like that in the road," says Tina.
Witnesses say it took nearly thirty minutes for an ambulance to get to the scene.
Wadley Police has called in the GBI to investigate and they will present their evidence to the District Attorney's office.
Corporal Paquette has been placed on administrative leave until the GBI's investigation is complete.
A funeral service for Jerry Conner will be held on Tuesday in his hometown of Vidalia, Georgia.
Several people from Wadley did show News 12 two different petitions from earlier this year with about 100 names calling Police Chief Wesley Lewis and Officer Paquette both unprofessional and requesting the Mayor step in to help.