COLUMBUS, Ga. — Three officer-involved shootings in 12 days leaves many demanding answers from police and city officials.
Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, and a representative with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation spoke with News 3 to see how both are handling the sudden surge in violent confrontations.
In two of the three shootings, police officers were responding to calls for help from citizens.
Still, many wonder why there have been so many officer-involved shootings.
“We think ‘Gee what’s going on? So many things happening all at once,'” Mayor Tomlinson said. “It’s just one of those things. It’s not unusual in police work it’s just that we usually get a little luckier and the people aren’t armed.”
In all three incidents, the suspects were armed. Mayor Tomlinson has a strong message for those confronted by police.
“If the police officers are called and you are armed, you need to put your weapon down. You need to stand very far away from that weapon and you need to let your hands be shown,” she said.
After each officer-involved shooting, Columbus Police contacted the GBI to investigate even though the police department is not required to do so.
“There is no mandate by law or any local or state policies that require an agency to contact the GBI whenever there’s a use of force, however, the Columbus Police Department has done that in each incidence,” GBI Director of Public Affairs Nelly Miles said.
Mayor Tomlinson says contacting the GBI is vital because it’s important for citizens to know the findings came from an independent investigation.
She also tells News 3 another important aspect is understanding police officers are making split-second decisions in life-threatening situations.
“I don’t know if people fully appreciate the emotional trauma that even a well-trained and even seasoned-police officer goes through when he or she has to discharge their weapon and it hits someone,” Mayor Tomlinson said.
The department has mandatory counseling for any officer involved in a shooting to make sure they’re taken care of after a violent confrontation.