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GBI identifies man killed in Athens officer-involved shooting

Blood-covered man shot, killed by Athens-Clarke County officers outside apartment complex on Macon Highway.

ATHENS, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has identified the man killed during Monday afternoon's officer-involved shooting in Athens as 23-year-old Aaron Hong. 

According to the GBI, at about 12:45 Monday afternoon, officers responded to a 911 call regarding a man with a butcher knife, later identified as Hong, causing a disturbance at the River Club Apartments in the 1000 block of Macon Highway in Athens. 

The GBI said that when Athens-Clarke County Police officers arrived, Hong was using the knife in an aggressive manner and appeared to be injured himself.  

Athens-Clarke County Senior Police Officer David Harrison and Officer Charles Bidinger were the officers who were dispatched to the scene, according to Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill.

When the two officers made contact with Hong, he confronted them and began to walk toward them with the knife in his hand. Both officers repeatedly commanded him to drop the knife. 

As he advanced, Hong can be heard on bodycam video released Tuesday by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department yelling at the officers, "Do it!"

RELATED | 'Blood-covered and acting erratically' | Man dead after Athens officer-involved shooting

Based on the bodycam video, the officers continued to back away from Hong, with Bidinger attempting to switch from his service weapon to his taser after Harrison calls out to him, "Less lethal!" 

At that point, Hong charged at Harrison, while still holding the knife. Harrison fires multiple times, striking Hong.

The GBI said that Hong managed to get back up. Based on the bodycam video, Hong had dropped the knife at that point, but then ran at Harrison and began to grapple with him, attempting to grab one of his weapons. 

Bidinger fired at Hong multiple times, striking him. 

EMTs began to treat Hong immediately, but he died on the scene. One of the officers received minor injuries and was treated by EMTs at the scene, according to the GBI.

Spruill said the GBI was asked to take over the investigation, as is customary for officer-involved shootings. Both Harrison and Bidinger have been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the GBI investigation, which is also customary.

Harrison is a seven-year veteran of the Athens-Clarke County department. Bidinger is in his first year as an officer with the Athens-Clarke County police force, and was tied to an officer-involved shooting earlier this year. 

In March, Bidinger was one of seven officers involved in a fatal shooting which involved a convicted felon holding what turned out to be an Airsoft-style replica handgun on officers. 

Chief Spruill told reporters on Tuesday that while Bidinger was involved in the March incident, he and the other officers involved had since been cleared by the GBI. Bidinger had since attended a firearms training course, which is standard for officers following an officer-involved shooting incident. 

Spruill said that the bodycam video of Monday's incident, while graphic in parts, was released as a measure of transparency, and to show the level of danger that officers faced on a daily basis. 


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