A Milledgeville, Georgia, sheriff's deputy says he mistakenly pulled a gun and shot a suspect in the arm last week instead of using a Taser. The incident was documented through police bodycam footage.
According to a video released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Baldwin County Deputy Charles Gillis shot an 18-year-old in the arm when the officer mistakenly drew his service weapon instead of his Taser.
Gillis was at the scene of a domestic disturbance between a mother and her son when the incident occurred. The mother called police to report the disturbance after her son struck her in the face, according to The Union-Recorder.
In the video, officers can be seen congregating around the suspect who began resisting them.
One of the officers shouted, "Taser, Taser!" but in a split second, Gillis realized that he'd pulled his gun and shot the young man in the arm instead of using his Taser on the suspect.
Gillis, clearly shocked, yelled, "Oh my God! Dang it!"
Another officer on the scene said, "You shot him!"
Gillis can later be seen clearly distressed as the other officers phone EMTs for medical assistance.
What happened after the deputy shot the suspect?
The suspect was taken to the hospital and treated. He was later released and jailed on misdemeanor charges of battery and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Gillis was placed on paid administrative leave following the incident, which is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee attended a Monday night local NAACP meeting in which he addressed questions about the shooting. The NAACP chapter president asked Massee how an officer could mistake a gun for a Taser.
Massee answered, "Well, I’m sorry this happened to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office, but I don’t think this is the first time that this has occurred where someone has grabbed his firearm as opposed to a Taser."
"People wear the Taser on what we called the off-hand side and wear their weapon on the good side. We do that, to be real honest with you, we do that so people won’t do what this deputy did and that is to grab his firearm," Massee explained.
"That is not what happened in this circumstance," he added. "The deputy did not go to his weak side hand. He pulled his service weapon and thought he was shooting a Taser and shot him [with his gun]."
Detective Chuck Downing, who works at the sheriff’s office and was also in attendance at the NAACP meeting, spoke and was adamant that the incident was not racially motivated.
"It’s not racial," Downing said and explained that he felt sorry for Gillis.
"He’s one of the nicest guys you would ever want to meet," he added. "I feel sorry for him. It was just a human mistake."