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Georgia Homeowner Fatally Shot After Police Respond to Wrong House


Officers "gave verbal commands for Powell to drop his handgun which he did not comply with."

William Powell (Image source: WSB-TV)

ATLANTA (AP) -- A Georgia homeowner shot in the neck after police went to the wrong house has died, a lawyer for the family said Friday.

William Powell, 63, died Thursday afternoon at Atlanta Medical Center, attorney Keith Martin said.

A preliminary review of the 911 call indicates the three officers who responded had gone to the wrong home and showed up at Powell's house, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said.

William Powell (Image source: WSB-TV)

Powell was armed with a gun and was shot in the neck by one of the officers, authorities said. He had grabbed the gun for protection, not knowing who might be outside in the dark of night, Martin said. A nearby home had been burglarized just two weeks before the shooting, he added.

The GBI is investigating the actions of Henry County police in the shooting early Wednesday morning in Stockbridge, about 20 miles south of Atlanta.

Someone had called 911 a little before midnight Tuesday to report hearing a woman yelling for help and gunshots, prompting the police response, the GBI has said. Authorities have not released the 911 call.

The officers "gave verbal commands for Powell to drop his handgun which he did not comply with," GBI agent Scott Dutton said in a statement.

But his wife, who was standing outside in the garage area, near her husband, never heard the officers say a word, Martin said.

"First thing she heard was two shots, her husband fell, she ran back into the house, locked the door and called 911," he said. "She saw her husband fall, and was terrified."

Powell had just left the house, opened the garage door and walked just outside the garage when he was shot, Martin said.

Though the garage was lighted, there are no exterior lights outside the garage, the lawyer said. She saw only one person outside in the darkness, and "she was not able to see anyone in uniform," Martin said.

GBI special agents want to speak with Powell's wife when she's available, and "we will meet with the investigators and cooperate in every way," Martin said.

After Powell was shot, some Henry County police officers continued to try to find the home where the 911 caller said screams and gunshots were heard, Dutton said in an interview Friday. They canvassed the neighborhood and believe they found the home the caller was talking about, Dutton said. A person at that home said there had been an argument, but that no one screamed for help and no gunshots were fired, he said.

The investigators looking into the shooting will be looking into the circumstances surrounding the 911 call as well, Dutton said.

The officer who shot Powell is on paid leave, the standard protocol in such cases, Henry County police Capt. Joey Smith said.

It wasn't known Friday whether the officers were wearing body cameras or whether any other video captured part of what transpired. Smith referred questions about the case to the GBI.

Powell was an Air Force veteran and has three grown children, according to his mother-in-law, Geraldine Huey, 85, who lives next door.

She said she heard a "racket" around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, but went back to sleep, she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. She later awoke early Wednesday to see a swarm of police cars outside.

"He worked all his life. Went to school," Huey told the Atlanta newspaper. "Just somebody you'd really like to know. He's right here for me any time."

Martin said the family "is most thankful for the wishes and prayers of neighbors, friends and the community and ask that the prayers continue through this difficult time."

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