GBI says North GA deputies not wearing body cameras when unarmed man was shot and killed

GORDON COUNTY, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says the deputy who shot and killed an unarmed man in north Georgia last week was not wearing a body camera.

Billy Dewayne Couch, 51, died after a Gordon County sheriff’s deputy shot him following a chase.

“Well I was shocked,” Greg Seritt, a friend of the Couch family said.

The shooting sent shockwaves through the small community of Sugar Valley in Gordon County last week.

In a statement through their attorney, the Couch family said, “The grieving process has been worsened because the authorities will not provide us with any details of what police say happened that night, suggesting it will be months until we have any answers.”

Seritt said body cameras would help provide answers in cases like these.

“Well, I think if they can afford it, I think that that would be the best thing. We have a lot of stuff going on that you can’t vouch for,” said Seritt.

In a statement, the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office said that deputies stopped wearing cameras last Fall because they were faulty.

“We have suspended the use of body worn cameras pending a search for a reliable, dependable device, after 15 of 35 such devices malfunctioned in a 45 day period,” the statement read in part.

After the shooting last week in Couch’s backyard, the GBI released few details, only saying that the deputy asked Couch to put his hands up and at some point shot him.

A split-second decision that could have been shown by a camera.

“It’s a tough job, I wouldn’t want to fill in their shoes, no, no, no,” said Seritt of police.

According to a government report released in late 2018, only about 47% of police agencies nationwide use body cameras. Many departments that don’t use cameras are in rural areas, like Gordon County, where funding can be an issue.

The Gordon County deputy’s car did feature a dashboard camera, but the GBI says it did not capture the shooting.





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