Macon City Council members criticized police Monday for failing to answer basic questions about the Dec. 21 fatal shooting of Sammie Junebug Davis Jr. by Officer Clayton Sutton.
Keith Moffett, assistant to the citys chief administrative officer, said he attended the special meeting of the councils Public Safety Committee to update the case. Sutton shot Davis, who was not found with a weapon, three times in the chest outside Kroger on Pio Nono Avenue.
But almost all of Moffetts answers were that he couldnt answer, since the matter is under investigation.
Councilman Tom Ellington noted that initial police reports stated Sutton was serving a warrant when his confrontation with Davis began. Police later said that information was incorrect.
Do we know the source of that misinformation? Ellington asked.
Moffett said no. Like most of the other questions from council members, that wont be discussed until the investigation is over, he said.
That didnt please council members. Ellington said theyre getting questions from members of the public who arent confident in city police statements on the issue. He asked Moffett if an ad hoc board would form to review the shooting, and Ellington said if a board is convened it should include a member of the public, not just police or political figures. Thats important for public confidence in light of earlier missteps, Ellington said.
Moffett said he wasnt sure if such a review board was required and said he would check with Capt. Jimmy Barbee, head of the police departments Internal Affairs division.
Councilman Henry Gibson, a retired Macon police captain, wondered why Chief Mike Burns didnt attend Mondays meeting. Since Moffett is not a police officer, he cant answer many policy questions, Gibson said.
Im concerned that the chief of police doesnt take the Public Safety Committee seriously, Gibson said.
Meanwhile, Councilman Rick Hutto asked why Moffett was taking questions when Lt. Wilton Collins and the departments public information officer, Jami Gaudet, were in the room. Many of the councils questions focused on general policy and could be answered despite the investigation, Hutto said.
Council President James Timley asked Gaudet directly who put out the initial report that Sutton was serving a warrant.
Im not prepared to speak about this, Gaudet replied, saying she was at the meeting to speak about another agenda item. When it came up, however, Gaudet didnt speak.
She said she would convey council members concerns to Burns.
Moffett told the committee that two GBI agents will prepare a summary of the case after they get results of various tests, Moffett said. Then theyll review their findings with District Attorney David Cooke, he said.
They anticipate this will be around mid-February, Moffett said.
In other business, the Public Safety Committee unanimously approved ordinances to eliminate special rules for liquor stores in the downtown area and to establish specific traffic regulations for wheelchairs on city streets.
If approved by full council Feb. 5, rules for liquor stores would be the same across the city, helping prevent a concentration of liquor stores downtown, said assistant City Attorney Stuart Morelli. Macon legally can have up to 35 liquor stores, but as of a few months ago there were only 26 citywide, he said.
Councilman Frank Tompkins had proposed wheelchair traffic rules, along with installation of charging stations for electric wheelchairs. But he asked to remove the charging-station provision to work around the possibility of battery damage through only partial charging at the proposed downtown plug-ins.
Finally, Information Technology Director Stephen Masteller and interim CAO Dale Walker said the new radio system bought for all police, firefighters and emergency workers should be operating by August.
The council voted in August 2012 to buy the system for $7.7 million from Harris Corp. RF Communications, using money from the special purpose local option sales tax voters approved in November 2011.