ATLANTA. – The number of officer-involved shootings in Georgia has been on a steady climb for the past five years—including the man who was shot by an off-duty officer the last weekend in February and the fatal parking lot shooting in January.
On Saturday, Feb. 25, Sgt. Mathieu Cadeau shot 46-year-old Noel Hall outside the Georgia Dome as people were leaving a motocross event, officials said.
The GBI, who’s investigating the case, said Cadeau was conducting traffic and ordered Hall to go one direction down Northside Drive, but allegedly, Hall wanted to go another direction.
According to GBI's initial statement issued on Saturday, Hall drove toward the officer and Cadeau opened fire.
Hall, who was injured, disputes officials' claims, saying that he never drove towards the officer and “at no point did we realize this man was a police officer.”
According to Hall, he was already turning when the officer approached his van.
On Wednesday, Atlanta Police stressed that they never said Hall was driving towards the officer.
"We're not at the point where we're at the point where we're going to say that the officer was threatened or the officer wasn't threatened," said Atlanta Police Sgt. Warren Pickard.
It’s still unclear at this point why Cadeau opened fire on Hall, whose sons, wife, grandson and another passenger were all inside the car. Atlanta Police has not given any indication that the officer felt threatened at the time.
Hall said he plans on taking legal action for what he said was call “absolutely unjustified” shooting.
According to GBI records, the agency has been requested to investigate 505 officer-involved, use-of-force investigations in Georgia since 2011, including 475 shootings—although they have only been investigating the Atlanta Police Department since 2015 and for Cobb County Police Department since 2016.
“Although we are not requested to investigate every single use of force case in Georgia, we do respond to the majority of them,” Nelly Miles, GBI spokeswoman, said.
Between 2010-2015, the APD has investigated 39 officer-involved shootings, including 10 fatalities.
According to the GBI, officer-involved shootings/use-of-force investigations, where police officers have shot a suspect or civilian, have climbed 108 percent since 2011. This year is on schedule to surpass that, according to an average of 6.4 monthly officer use-of-force shootings last year in Georgia.
"That certainly is a grave concern to us," DeKalb County Public Safety Director Cedric Alexander said.
11Alive was evaluating those statistics the same day that Alexander announced his retirement.
"The community and police have to be engaged in a relationship together in which they are constantly communicating and building a sense of trust and we still know that's a challenge," he said.
In 2016, the GBI investigated 77 officer-involved shootings statewide; 24 of those ended in death. This year has already had at least 14 officer-involved shootings statewide with five fatal. But Alexander cautions that the issue goes far beyond numbers.
"He or she has to make a split second decision under many times adverse conditions that most people would cringe under," Alexander said.
Police use-of-force by fire arm GBI investigations:
- 2011- 37 (12 deaths)
- 2012- 58 (25 deaths)
- 2013- 48 (23 deaths)
- 2014- 47 (14 deaths)
- 2015- 59 (28 deaths)
- 2016- 77 (24 deaths)
- 2017- 18 (6 deaths as of Feb. 23)
Between 2016-2017, the GBI has investigated 128 use-of-force cases, including 99 shootings—30 resulting in death—and two Taser deaths, not including one in Butts County on Feb. 24 and another man in McDonough, Ga., who died on Nov. 12, 2016.
In 2017, the number of use-of-force investigations is on track to rise above last year’s numbers, with 18 as of Feb. 23.
Alexander was on President Obama's 21st century police task force that investigated police shootings in Tulsa and Charlotte in 2016. He said the current environment between public and police is fluid but he believes gains have been made.
"How we train, how we recruit and training certainly has played a significant role when it comes to de-escalation," he said. "How we engage and manage those who are struggling with mental health illnesses."
He said it will take effort from both sides to bring these numbers down.
"A community is only as safe as the partnership between the police and its members in it," Alexander said.
Police use-of-force cases 2016-17:
- Blunt force hands/feet- 6
- Firearm- 69
- Firearm death- 30
- Restraint- 1
- Taser- 3
- Taser death- 2
- Other- 14
- Other death- 3
Cases by county 2016-17:
Effingham - 2