Man Pulls Gun and Shoots at Cops During Traffic Stop.
The Chatham County grand jury on Monday found that Savannah-Chatham police officers were “legally justified” when they used deadly force to stop Tyrie Cuyler from fleeing a traffic stop in October.
“Grand jury finds that no further action is required,” the March term panel said in a civil finding returned after presentation of evidence Monday.
That presentation by Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap and Chief Assistant Greg McConnell included body camera footage from officers Ruben Colon, Michael Gonzales and John Hauber at the scene.
A fourth officer, Daniel Kang, did not activate his body camera.
Cuyler, 25, was shot and killed in a gun battle with Savannah-Chatham police officers shortly before midnight Oct. 27 after a routine traffic stop turned deadly.
Colon and Gonzales were shot and wounded by Cuyler before he was fatally shot when police returned fire at the intersection of 37th Street and Ogeechee Road.
Both officers survived.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents were called in that night and conducted the investigation, referring their findings Heap.
The March term grand jury on April 20 recommended a civil inspection and investigation into whether the officers’ use of force was justified and notified Savannah-Chatham Police Chief Joseph Lumpkin.
Lumpkin declined an invitation to respond to the presentment before it was published, which by law he is entitled to do, Heap said. She added that Lumpkin did appear before the grand jury considering the evidence.
The GBI probe report found:
● Colon fired eight rounds, Gonzales fired six and Hauber fired five from their official Glock pistols. Kang did not fire his weapon.
● Examination of the bullets recovered from Cuyler’s body at autopsy could not be identified as coming from a specific officer’s gun – a finding that is not unusual when comparing bullets from Glocks.
● The neighborhood where the shooting occurred was canvassed and numerous residents were found who heard gunfire, but no resident was found who witnessed the shooting.
● The only civilian witness found, who was returning home from work, witnessed the shooting and her description was consistence with those of the four officers.
In their findings involving Cuyler, which the GBI said illustrated Cuyler’s “desperate motivation to use unjustified deadly force,” the GBI found that Cuyler:
● Was armed with a .38-caliber Smith & Wesson revolver which contained three spent shell casings; the handle was wrapped with electrical tape in an apparent attempt to not leave fingerprints.
● Had 16 individually packed baggies in his pocket containing cocaine … the possession of which is a felony.
● Was a two-time convicted felon.
● Was arrested on March 18, 2015, in McIntosh County for possession of a firearm by a convicted felony
● Raped a female inside her West Duffy Street residence on Oct. 21, 2015. The case was still under investigation when he died.
● Had raped another female inside her East Duffy Street home on Aug. 9, 2015. The case was under investigation at the time of his death.
Heap said the grand jurors have two options in the case:
● Recommend that an indictment be prepared the presented to them
● Determine that no further investigation is needed – that use of force in the case was justified.