- Associated Press - Sunday, October 25, 2020

GREENVILLE, Ga. (AP) - A Georgia police officer has been cleared of criminal liability after shooting and killing a man who prosecutors say pointed his gun at police.

Meriwether County District Attorney Herb Cranford said in a Friday news release that a review of body camera footage was consistent with accounts that 42-year-old Wallace Dean Staples was agitated and had his thumb on the trigger of a gun when he was shot in May in Greenville.

“The fact that his thumb was on the trigger and that Staples held the gun awkwardly heightened the probability that the pistol could go off either intentionally or unintentionally,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports Cranford said.

The prosecutor said the officer “was justified in defending himself and others from Staples after Staples pointed a pistol in their direction.”

Officers said Staples was making “jerky movements.” He was later found to be under the influence of alcohol and methamphetamine.

Multiple 911 calls stated that Staples was walking through residents’ yards shirtless and holding a gun, GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said at the time. One caller said Staples pointed the gun in the direction of children, while another said the man claimed he was wanted by police, authorities said.

The officers tried to get Staples to put the gun down, but they said he refused and told them to kill him. Police said at one point he had the gun pointed directly at his head, according to the release. When Staples pointed the gun at the officers, one of them fired, hitting the man in the neck. Officers tried to render first aid, but Staples died before he could be taken to a hospital.

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