Georgia on track to double officer-related shootings for 2018, Clayton accounts for 1

A review of records indicates that Georgia is on track to double the amount of officer-related shootings for this year compared to last, with Clayton contributing one of them.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was asked to come to the city of Clayton in Rabun County back in February to investigate an officer-involved shooting following a chase. A Clayton police officer shot and killed a man who investigators said slashed at the officer with a knife.

The reports show that the number of fatal police shootings in the state for 2018 is on pace to double from the year before. In 2017, 30 people were shot and killed by police officers for the entire year, meaning Georgia has matched that total and it’s only July.

It’s not just fatal shootings that are on the rise. The GBI reports that there were 88 officer-involved shootings in 2017. The 51 that have taken place at the halfway point this year are on track to pass that.

While experts point to a variety of reasons for the increase — nationwide and in Georgia — in officer-involved shootings, there are no easy solutions to reverse the trend.

“It’s almost like a perfect storm coming together,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said. “There’s very much anti-police sentiment in some communities. You combine that with drugs and mental health.”

All total, there have been 51 shootings involving police officers so far in 2018 compared to 88 for all of last year. In 2017, there were 88 officer-involved shootings and this year’s total is on track to pass that, according to the GBI.

For the GBI, investigating officer-involved shootings has become a priority, and a time-consuming one, Keenan said. The incidents are coming with such frequency and each requires an in-depth investigation, contributing to a growing backlog at the state crime lab.

“These cases are a priority in the medical examiner’s office if there is a death involved,” he said. “There can’t be an error in the investigation or a mistake made because it’s just too important.”