Less than four hours after hed shot and killed a man, officer Clayton Sutton was in a Macon police interview room.
Dressed in a black T-shirt, he sat at a table and told investigators that Sammie Davis Jr. had lunged at him and tried to grab his head with both hands outside the Kroger store on Pio Nono Avenue.
Hed been able to block one of Davis hands, but he felt a cutting, burning sensation on his neck.
I knew something was cutting me. I was just scared, Sutton told investigators. I thought this guy was trying to do as much damage to me as he possibly could.
Davis, also known as Junebug, died after Sutton shot him three times outside the supermarket Dec. 21.
The district attorneys office has ruled the shooting justified, and Sutton has returned to work pending the results of a Macon police internal affairs investigation.
In the police interview room, Sutton told investigators Davis had been argumentative when hed asked him why he was at the Kroger. Sutton had been dispatched to the store after an 84-year-old woman reported that a man had been begging her for money in the parking lot. The Telegraph obtained a copy of the interview as part of an Open Records Act request.
Sutton told police he couldnt tell if Davis was less capable of thought than anyone else.
Citing Davis size, an investigator asked Sutton at one point whether he could have easily maneuvered from underneath Davis if the man had fallen forward on top of him.
Sutton replied, No. ... I would most likely have been trapped underneath him.
During a break, Sutton told his attorney, Im not happy about having to kill a guy. ... Im not going to put my life in jeopardy.
In a separate interview conducted Jan. 10, Sutton told the GBI hed been on Pio Nono Avenue, a few blocks from Kroger, when hed been sent to the store. He was the only officer on his shift assigned to work in the zone that includes the store.
All they told us was there was a large black male begging for money, Sutton said.
Pulling into the parking lot, he could see a man sitting on a bench to the far left of the store entrance.
He was, you know, roughly the size of a Coke vending machine, so he was big. So, I figured that to be the guy they were talking about, Sutton said.
After pulling up to the curb near the man, Sutton stayed in his car. He tapped on it and asked the man to come over and talk.
I asked him what he was doing. He said, Nothing. I said, Are you going in the store to do any shopping? He said, No. I said, Well, why not? And he said he didnt have any money, the officer recalled.
Sutton asked the man for his name. He told him Sammie Davis.
The officer told the GBI hed remembered seeking a shoplifting warrant for a man named Chucky Allen Davis, and that a Kroger employee had told him in the past that the man went by the name Sammie.
Out of his car
Thinking Sammie Davis Jr. might be the alleged shoplifter, Sutton got out of his car.
He said his plan was to ask for the mans ID or put him in the back of the police car until he could confirm his identity.
I asked him to take his hands out of his pockets. He would take his right hand out, but not his left, Sutton told the GBI. When I said it the second time, he lunged at me and grabbed toward my head.
Then, I felt him scraping my neck, cutting my neck using his left hand.
I could feel a sharp pain in my neck, he said. It hurt more than the pain of someone slapping or hitting.
Sutton said Davis was still holding on to him when he pushed away and fired his gun as he moved backward and crashed into a car.
I thought he was trying to kill me, Sutton said.
Shot three times, he was walking toward me still ... and kinda looking down at himself, Sutton said.
Sutton said hes been wounded in combat situations before. He was deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan while in the Army National Guard.
I didnt take my focus off of him until after the (sergeant) and everybody got there, he said.
Thats when he touched his neck and felt the blood.
Listening to his police radio, officer Michael Smith heard Sutton tell dispatchers he needed an ambulance.
He had that stressed sound in his voice, Smith told the GBI.
Smith flipped on his blue lights and drove to the Kroger. He parked near where Sutton was standing, still holding his gun.
When I get out of my car, the first thing I see is officer Sutton. Hes got a big cut on his neck. Its pretty sizeable, Smith said.
Suttons hair was also messed up, he said.
Soon, other police officers arrived.
A sergeant told Sutton to holster his gun and handcuff Davis. Smith searched Davis pockets for a weapon. He didnt find one, he said.
Smith went into the store to get medical supplies to help Davis, but firefighters and an ambulance arrived before he returned.
Macon-Bibb County firefighter Josey Kelley told the GBI he passed by Sutton on his way to check on Davis.
He said he was cut, but he was fine, Kelley recalled.
Kelley helped load Davis into an ambulance and rode in the back to help hold down Davis legs on the way to the hospital.
Davis kept trying to lift his legs, although he was strapped down. The movement put him at risk of losing more blood, Kelley said.
He really didnt say much, just yes sir and no sir, Kelley said.
Davis was still talking when the ambulance arrived at the hospital, he said.
To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.