Witnesses in stun-death trial try to explain deputies’ actions

Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 7:33 PM EDT
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SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - New details in the case of Eurie Martin, the man who died after stun guns were used on him by deputies in Washington County.

The murder trial for former deputies Rhett Scott, Michael Howell and Henry Copeland picked back up Tuesday. It was the first time the defense got to call witnesses.

As expected, the defense witnesses showed a very different take on the video evidence. One witness said it was Martin who created the risk in the situation — giving deputies reason to react with force.

His family says he had a history of mental health issues and was only walking from one place to another to visit his family.

“He wasn’t fighting, but he wasn’t allowing them to handcuff him, either,” said Jasmine Williams in her 2017 eyewitness interview with Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents.

Williams didn’t remember much about July 7, 2017, so the court played back her interview with the GBI from that day.

“The three of them continued to try to talk to him and they surrounded him and he was continuing to be, you know, hollering and he appeared to be not cooperative” said Williams in the interview.

Officers first shocked Martin and managed to get only one hand in cuffs.

“All three of them were on him trying to cuff him. They seemed to be having some issues” she said.

Martin also pulled off the stun gun probes, which an expert witness claimed was out of the norm and might require more force.

“That’s unheard of. That would further elevate the deputies’ mindset of alert about safety, about the strength of perhaps Mr. Martin and the mental condition of Mr. Martin and the drugs of Mr. Martin perhaps” said Dr. Darrell Lee Ross, professor and use-of-force expert.

Ross testified that officers had reason to detain Martin because there were a lot of “unknowns,” including his behavior and why he was walking down the roadway. He went on to say with only one hand cuffed, Martin could have used the open cuff as a weapon.

After some back and forth during cross-examination. The state identified that Ross was being paid more than $18,000 to testify. And he’s testified in more than 200 law enforcement trials, always on the side of law enforcement.

Another medical expert witness brought by the defense detailed how schizophrenia symptoms can often appear as intoxication from drugs or alcohol which could likely be what the deputies perceived.

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