Officer struck in head by suspect prior to shooting
by David Atchison
PELL CITY — A Mill Village community resident said she saw the suspect who was shot by an unidentified police officer strike the officer in the head just prior to the shooting.

“The officer kept saying, ‘Put it down. Put it down,’ and to ‘Get down,’” said the woman who said she witnessed Friday night’s shooting at the intersection of 30th Street and Fourth Avenue North.

The woman asked not to be identified.

The officer and suspect apparently tussled with each other for more than two blocks, after police received a disturbance call to 314 29th St. N.

“At first I thought it was just kids,” the resident said. “Then I thought it was a domestic fight.”

It was then the resident saw the Pell City police officer and suspect.

She said she heard the suspect saying something but could not understand what he was saying. She said the suspect was acting erratically and slurring his words.

“The cop was trying to get him on the ground,” she said. “He kept telling him to get down.”

She said when the two men crossed 30th Street, the suspect hit the officer on the head with an apparent hand-held radio the suspect had earlier wrestled away from the officer.

Another resident, who asked not to be identified, said the suspect had stripped about everything from the police officer’s belt, and the officer’s equipment was scattered in a neighbor’s yard.

“He lost about everything,” he said.

The resident said he came out of his house after hearing the commotion. He also heard the officer repeatedly asking the suspect to stop and to get down on the ground.

He said the suspect was still fussing after he was shot and did not calm down until paramedics arrived on the scene.

The incident, they said, happened shortly after 11 p.m. Friday.

On Saturday, the Pell City Police Department released a statement stating that while on the scene of a disturbance call, a police officer was assaulted by the suspect as the officer attempted to defend himself.

“The officer was forced to use his handgun. …” the release states.

The officer was treated and released from St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital.

As of Monday the suspect, who police have not identified, remains in critical condition at University Hospital in Birmingham.

The Pell City Police Department did not release any further statements Monday about Friday’s shooting.

Pell City Police Chief Greg Turley referred all questions to the investigating agency, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation.

“We are awaiting the final investigative report from ABI and will present those findings to the grand jury,” St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor said Monday. “However, based on the information available at this time, it appears that the officer was justified in his actions.”

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

© 2013