CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — Prosecutors said a deputy responding to a domestic dispute in 2017 found himself "facing the sharp end of an arrow that was aimed and ready to shoot."
Two years later, the person brandishing the hunting weapon and chasing a deputy out of the home has been given a 10-year sentence - five of which will be spent in state prison.
Authorities said that Cherokee County deputies were responding to a domestic dispute call on Trickum Road on that September day when they arrived at a quiet home - and an open front door. Deputies said no one responded despite knocks and shouts of "Sheriff's Office," so one of them entered the home through a door in the garage.
That's when the deputy found himself staring down an arrow aimed by 49-year-old Joel Lee Bearden. The district attorney's office said the deputy was forced to retreat as he was chased down by a large, aggressive dog that Bearden kept on the property.
"Eventually, Bearden came out onto the porch brandishing the bow and arrow in a firing position, which was pointed at the police officers in the yard," a statement from the District Attorney for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit read.
The statement went on to suggest that the weapon, typically used for hunting, could have fatally wounded an officer, had Bearden fired the arrow and it hit one of them in the chest.
After repeated demands by responding officers, Bearden eventually put down the bow.
“They handled the situation with great professionalism and restraint, and the District Attorney’s Office is pleased to support the work our law enforcement officers do,” assistant district attorney Randall Ivey, who prosecuted the case, said.
A jury ultimately found Bearden guilty of aggravated assault on a peace officer. Judge Tony Baker handed down the 10-year sentence.
"Every day, police officers put their lives in danger to protect and serve us. When these officers responded to a domestic dispute, Mr. Bearden refused to respond in a reasonable manner. Instead, he pointed a weapon at them that was as dangerous as a firearm,” said District Attorney Shannon Wallace. "In Cherokee County, we respect our law enforcement officers, and my office will do everything in its power to ensure that anyone threatening their safety will be prosecuted.”