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July 2, 2009 Issue

Suspect shot by bystander
Early voting has started
Kelsey joins Fire House
Officer cleared in fatal shooting

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Suspect shot by bystander

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

A citizen apparently trying to assist Jefferson County deputies Saturday has found himself charged with aggravated assault.

About 2:55 p.m. Saturday, June 27, a deputy with JCSO was patrolling between Wrens and Louisville and saw a vehicle illegally passing other motorists, Lt. Robert Chalker, an investigator with the sheriff’s office said.

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Chalker said the driver, 24-year-old Brian Santana Lane of Louisville, did not immediately stop for the deputy and a chase ensued.

The chase lasted about five minutes and speeds reached more than 100 mph, Chalker said.

Lane stopped near the intersection of Quaker Road and Campground Road approximately 3 miles east of Wrens. Lane left his vehicle and ran through a wooded area. The deputy arrived and detained a female passenger who was still in the vehicle, Chalker said.

The investigator said a resident, Andrew Newton Swan Sr., 56, of Wrens was tending his livestock near the scene where the vehicle stopped.

Swan had heard the siren and saw Lane climb over his fence and run across a pasture.

Chalker said Swan tried to stop Lane by chasing him with all terrain vehicle and firing several warning shots from a handgun located in the ATV.

“According to statements, the resident (Swan) yelled for the fleeing subject (Lane) to stop several times before firing a final shot that struck the fleeing subject causing him to fall to the ground. The resident immediately stopped a passing motorist and instructed them to call 911 for an ambulance,” Chalker said.

Within seconds, the deputy who had been chasing Lane’s vehicle arrived and stayed until an ambulance arrived. Lane was transported to the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta.

He was initially listed in guarded condition but was reportedly sitting up and talking by Sunday.

Carl Wagster, Jefferson County’s EMS director, said Lane was transported by ground ambulance to the airport in Wrens and from there to MCG by air.

“He had an entrance wound on the back of the head and an exit wound from the left lower jaw,” Wagster said. “He was talking to them. He was alert and talking. He knew date, time and place.”

Lane could face several traffic charges when he is released from the hospital.

The female passenger was released without charges.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assisting the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office with this investigation.

Swan made a $25,000 cash bond Monday and was released.

Chalker said in his 22 years in law enforcement he has never had a case like this.

Swan was charged, Chalker said, because it was not a self-defense issue.

“Swan didn’t know if (Lane) was wanted for traffic offenses or if he was wanted for something else. He didn’t know,” Chalker said.

When asked his advice to any citizen in a similar situation, the investigator said, “I hope the citizen is never in that same circumstance.

“Every citizen has a right to defend himself if his life is in jeopardy and we have the right as citizens to protect a third person if he is in jeopardy. That is not why Mr. Swan was arrested. I was advised by the district attorney to charge him with one count of aggravated assault, which I did.”

Chalker said law enforcement relies on assistance from the public.

“We want citizen involvement,” he said. “We want the public’s help. We could not solve crimes without the public’s help.”

Chalker said there was nothing illegal in the vehicle Lane was driving and that a toxicology screening was not requested.

“We have no reason to suspect that he was under the influence of anything,” he said.

Additionally, Chalker said Swan was not tested for alcohol or drugs.

“We had no reason to suspect that,” Chalker said.



Early voting has started

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Early voting in the runoff election between Asholyn Powell Lampp and Marnique Williams Oliver for the office of Jefferson County Probate Judge began Tuesday, June 30, and will end Thursday, July 2, Jefferson County’s registrar, Chandrel Evans, said Monday.

“We’re closed Friday, July 3, in observance of the 4th of July holiday,” she said.

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During the week of early voting, Evans said the office will still close an hour for lunch. The office will open at 8 a.m., close for lunch from noon until 1 p.m. and reopen until 5 p.m., she said.

“Advance voting is Monday, July 6, through Friday, July 10,” she said. The office will be open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will not close for lunch during this time.

Evans said she has been receiving calls from voters who want to know if they can vote in the runoff if they didn’t vote in the special election.

“I want to clarify some misconceptions,” she said.

“Just because someone did not vote in the special election does not prohibit them from voting in the runoff. Anyone who was eligible to vote in the special election, whether they voted or not, is eligible to vote in the runoff,” Evans said.

“On Election Day, Tuesday, July 14, the polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. On that day, there will be no voting in the registrar’s office. Voting will be only at the polls,” Evans said.

Anyone voting during early voting or advance voting must vote at the registrar’s office at 302 East Broad St. in Louisville.



Kelsey joins Fire House

By Sabrina Littleton
Intern

The Fire House Gallery, having bid farewell to former intern Dan Rekshan, has welcomed Kelsey McMillan as its latest addition.

Having grown up in Raleigh, N.C., McMillan attended Guilford College in the relatively closeby town of Greensboro. While in school, she completed a double major in art history and women’s studies.

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The intern claims she is from a creative family that has always exposed her to the arts. Her pathway to studying art history began when McMillan was in high school and her older sister encouraged her to take an art class. Adhering to this advice, she decided to take an AP Art History course during her senior year.

“I fell in love with the subject and immediately knew I wanted to pursue a career in that area,” McMillan claimed with a reminiscent smile.

Despite a passion for photography as a hobby, she does not do very much art on her own time.

“I’m more of an art geek – I like to study it,” she said lightheartedly.

McMillan first heard about The Fire House Gallery’s internship position while she was still in college.

She says that when the gallery did its 20/20 Vision show where 20 different professors from 20 various colleges are represented, one of her professors, Roy Nydorf, was invited to be one of those represented.

An e-mail was then sent out to the Guilford College students informing them of the open position as an intern at the gallery. McMillan immediately jumped at the opportunity and applied for the job. She first visited Louisville in late 2008 and started work soon after.

Being an intern at the Fire House Gallery definitely keeps McMillan occupied. Even though she does not make the initial artist contacts and set up the dates for shows, she does help handle the artistic as well as business aspects of the gallery.

Her duties include everything from preparing the gallery for art shows to keeping record of the business’s taxes. One of her favorite things to do at the gallery is prepare for the art shows.

“I love the behind-the-scenes work of shows,” she said.

This “behind-the-scenes work” includes things like setting up the artworks and making sure the gallery looks its best for those coming in. When discussing the business side of her occupation, McMillan said it has been “eye-opening” to be able to learn how to handle all the paperwork and legal details that keep the gallery in operation. She said the internship is definitely helping her learn a lot and gain valuable experience.

When speaking in terms of future plans, McMillan seems to be mainly focused on her current duties as intern for the gallery.

“My main goal was to get here,” she said. However, she does hope to go to graduate school after her internship expires in a year. She is also interested in non-profit work in the arts. Whatever she chooses in the future, the intern said that she wants to stay with the art museum atmosphere, preferably ones that are homey and “catered to the community. I like working and talking with people.”

McMillan said that the next show at The Fire House Gallery will be called Precious Objects, showcasing the mixed media work of local artist Bridget Conns. Opening night will be held on Saturday, July 11, and the show will extend until July 26.



Officer cleared in fatal shooting

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

No charges will be filed against a Wadley Police Department officer who shot a man two months ago, Jefferson County District Attorney Hayward Altman announced in a press release Monday.

The officer, Cpl. Patrick Paquette, had arrived about 4:28 p.m. Friday, April 3, at a residence on North Main Street in Wadley after other officers had responded to a domestic call there.

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A Wadley man, Jerry Conner, was reportedly beating on a vehicle when officers first arrived on the scene. One of the officers approached Conner who turned on the officer with a knife, WPD Chief Wesley Lewis said at the time.

Lewis said the officer was backing away from Conner and the knife and fell in the yard. The other officer called for back up.

At this time, a state officer arrived on the scene and attempted to use a Taser.

Lewis said the officer made contact with Conner with the Taser but it had no effect.

Paquette and two investigators arrived on the scene. They got out of their patrol car to assist the officers who were already there, the chief said.

Lewis said at the time that the officers gave multiple commands for Conner to drop the knife, which he refused to do.

The chief said that at some point, Conner focused his attention on Paquette.

“He didn’t comply with the commands from the officers and continued on towards them and all three of them were getting out of the same vehicle. At some point, Officer Paquette had to decide to use deadly force to protect himself and his fellow officers from receiving serious bodily harm or even death,” Lewis said.

The chief described the knife in Conner’s possession as being between eight to 10 inches, including the handle.

“It was a large knife,” he said.

Conner was taken to Jefferson Hospital where he died later that evening.

The GBI investigated the shooting and provided a report to the District Attorney early last month. Altman said that he would carefully review the findings and decide whether further action was needed.

Altman had said after receiving the GBI’s report that he would first discuss his decision with Conner’s family before making a public announcement.

“After carefully reviewing the facts involved in the death of Jerry Conner on April 3, 2009, and thoroughly considering the procedural guidelines an officer has to follow in using deadly force and after meeting with the wife and the son of Mr. Conner, it is the decision of the district attorney not to pursue any criminal charges concerning Officer Thomas Patrick Paquette Jr.,” Altman said in the press release he issued this week.

“It is the policy of this office to carefully review all cases, especially those concerning law enforcement officers and to vigorously prosecute enforcement officers who violate the law. However, when an officer is justified in his actions, this office will vigorously stand by that officer. The facts clearly establish Officer Paquette acted within the standards set out for an officer to use deadly force in defense of himself and others.

“The District Attorney’s Office has a legal, an ethical and a moral obligation not to present a case to the grand jury when it is clear no law has been broken. The District Attorney’s Office will always fulfill its duties in that respect.

“It is always a tragedy when a human life is lost and the District Attorney’s Office wishes to express heartfelt condolescences for the loss suffered by the Conner family in the death of Jerry Conner,” Altman’s press release stated.

“After meeting with the Conner family, they were very respectful to me and also very gracious for the opportunity to talk with me prior to my making any public announcement,” the district attorney said in a telephone interview Monday.

He said he would notify Paquette and Chief Lewis Tuesday.

Paquette, who is a part time officer with WPD and works full time as an officer with the Richmond County Board of Education, has been on administrative leave from WPD since the shooting.

“He’ll return to duty sometime this week,” Lewis said Tuesday after speaking with Altman. “We still regret the loss of their loved one. If they need us, we’re here.”

Attempts to contact the family were unsuccessful as of press time Tuesday.




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