Police: Man shot outside courtroom refused to put away tablet
CLAYTON COUNTY, Ga. — Atlanta TV station WGCL spoke with the father of the man shot in the Clayton County courthouse.
Lenorris Johnson confirmed that his son Benarvis Johnson is the man who was shot Wednesday at the Clayton County courthouse.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Thursday that Johnson is still hospitalized at this time. Reporter Dante Renzulli obtained court documents showing Johnson has been charged with creating a public disturbance.
Clayton County authorities said Johnson was in court for a child support hearing when he was shot after refusing to put away his tablet.
According to records, Johnson was about to be asked to start paying $233 per month for his 3-year-old son in California. The woman filing the petition is also asking for an additional $2,796 to cover last year.
Authorities said the man was escorted from the courtroom before he was tased. When that had no effect, police said they fired one shot.
Michael McQueen and others who were inside the courthouse said the experience was terrifying and in their opinion crossed the line.
“The guy was saying just, don’t put your hands on me,'” McQueen said. “The officer called for backup. Both of them had their tasers drawn and escorted him out in the hallway. You hear a tussle and then a gun shot.”
Police said Johnson refused to turn off his tablet computer. Minutes later, one of the deputies shot the suspect after an attempt to use a taser was ineffective.
“I didn’t see a reason to shoot that man,” McQueen said.
“Everybody’s using cellphones in there too so what’s the difference between a tablet and a cellphone?” eyewitness Alfred King said. “It was all unnecessary. It could have been avoided if the officer didn’t bring himself down to the level of the suspect.”
An investigation is now underway to determine if the officer’s actions were warranted.
“It is unclear if the individual was reaching for the officer’s gun or if the officer reacted instinctively and drew his weapon, firing one shot striking the individual,” Jonesboro Police Chief Franklin Allen said.
“On a scale of one to 10, I’d give it a 10,” McQueen said.
Ten being the worst case scenario. Many believe the incident could have been resolved more peacefully.
“We have to do better, our officers and civilians. We all have to do better,” McQueen said.
Johnson, who was shot in his buttock, was transported to Atlanta Medical Center.
“Somebody just called me and said my son got shot out here at Clayton County Courthouse for child support and I’m just out here trying to find out what’s going on,” Lenorris Johnson said.
Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill released this statement regarding the shooting:
“There has been an deputy involved shooting at the Clayton County Courthouse annex and this building should be avoided until the scene is thoroughly investigated.
“The GBI has been notified and will handle the investigation in its entirety. Any questions concerning the details of the deputy involved shooting is to be directed to the GBI to maintain the integrity of the investigation.”
Benarvis Johnson’s first court date is scheduled for Dec. 9. That date is pending upon Johnson’s release from the hospital.