The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department after a man was shot by police at University Garden Apartments on Baxter Street in Athens, Georgia on Oct. 5.
The GBI identified the man as 28-year-old Salvador Salazar from North Carolina. A warrant has been issued and given to Clarke County Sheriff’s office for one count of aggravated assault on a police officer.
Police were responding to a domestic disturbance call when they were reportedly confronted by Salazar, who was armed with a machete. He was shot after ignoring instructions to drop the weapon and proceeded to attack an officer. The victim remains in critical condition in an Athens hospital.
No officers were injured in the incident.
The case was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for an independent investigation on the officer, per Athens-Clarke County Police Department’s standing policy. The finalized GBI report will be given to the Athens-Clarke County District Attorney’s Office to make a decision on whether to press charges against the officer or not.
Fourth Officer-Involved Shooting this Year
This incident is the fourth Athens-Clarke County police officer-involved shooting this year. All three prior shootings have been fatal.
The GBI investigated two Athens-Clarke County officer involved shootings in 2018, none in 2017 and one in 2016.
In March, a 34-year-old man was shot after brandishing a gun at police officers that an investigation later determined to be an airsoft gun. The next month, police responded to a harassment call on Hull Road where a man exited a home with a shotgun pointed at officers. The officer involved shot the 63-year-old twice.
In July, a 23-year-old man was shot and killed by officers after charging at one with a knife and attempting to take his weapon.
Officers were not harmed in the incidents in March and April, and the officer attacked in July sustained minor injuries.
The GBI is a statewide agency that assists local law enforcement by conducting investigations, including officer involved shootings.
Individual police departments determine whether they want the GBI to look into officer involved shootings and, if requested, they conduct an extensive, independent investigation.
Investigators and crime scene specialists collect DNA evidence, body cam and dash cam footage, the officer’s weapon that was used and other pertinent information. They also utilize a 3D laser scanner to recreate a digital picture of the crime scene.
Investigators interview other officers and witnesses about the incident, as well as getting statements from the officer involved. They also ensure that the officer was properly certified and trained.
After this information is collected, it’s handed over to the proper district attorney’s office where a decision is made whether to press criminal charges against the officer. The GBI does not make a determination of whether the use of force was warranted or not.
According to U.S. law, officers may use force if they perceive the threat of danger to themselves or others.
For further information on how the GBI investigates officer involved shootings, you can visit the agency’s use of force handbook.
Bailey Walker is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
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