Houston & Peach

‘He was a good man. He just had a problem,’ family member says of man slain by deputy

Woman tells neighbor the police just shot her husband four times

Tyia Clay and her best friend, Kansas Williams, were relaxing in the living room when Clay's next door neighbor started banging on the front door. She told them police had just shot her husband.
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Tyia Clay and her best friend, Kansas Williams, were relaxing in the living room when Clay's next door neighbor started banging on the front door. She told them police had just shot her husband.

When people think of Chris Cashell, his sister-in-law asks that they don’t define him by the last few moments of his life, or past incidents of domestic violence.

Cashell, 45, was shot dead Monday by a Houston County sheriff’s deputy responding to a domestic call at his Green Island Road home in Bonaire.

“He wasn’t a monster,” Michele Howell said Thursday. “Yes, him and my sister had problems. Yes, apparently he had problems before. But it was due to the drinking … He was a good man.

“He went to work. He took care of my sister and her son financially …They had good times. It wasn’t just all bad or else they wouldn’t have stayed together. We just really want everyone to know, especially my sister, Nicole. She just wants everyone to know that he wasn’t ... a monster. He was a good man.”

Chris Cashell worked hard helping to maintain C-130 aircraft at Robins Air Force Base to support his family, Howell said.

“He loved my sister and my sister loved him,” Howell said.

And he treated his wife’s son as his own, she said.

“He treated him good,” Howell said. “Chris liked to play video games and so did Nicholas. They had a very good bond.

“Anytime he had to go to the doctor, Chris would make sure the co-pay was paid, and his dad wanted to give Chris the money for the co-pay and he wouldn’t take it.”

That was the kind of person he was, Howell said.

“He was good to my kids,” Howell said. She and her husband have seven children. “He was good to the whole family and we loved him.”

Like Howell’s husband, Chris Cashell was a “gun connoisseur’’ — owning several weapons, she said. He liked to shoot and he liked to fish.

Cashell also played guitar, often making up songs, she said.

But when he drank, it was like he became somebody else, Howell said. He had been drinking Monday, Howell said.

Cashell had allegedly slashed three of his wife’s tires to prevent her from leaving their home. He initially cooperated with Deputy Jonathan Lewis after being told to come outside and remain there while his wife gathered some of her things, said GBI Special Agent J.T. Ricketson.

But the second time Cashell went into the home against Lewis’ wishes, Cashell turned and pointed a handgun, held in his right hand, in the deputy’s direction, Ricketson said.

“After a number of his (the deputy) basically yelling, ‘Drop the weapon, Drop the weapon,’ Chris then pointed the weapon towards the deputy and the deputy fired four rounds,” Ricketson said.

The autopsy found that Cashell was struck three times in the upper torso. He was pronounced dead on scene, Ricketson said. Toxicology test results are pending.

Based on what she knows at this point, Howell was asked if she felt like the shooting was justified

“I believe it was,” Howell said. “Do I wish that it didn’t happen that way? Absolutely.

“Do I blame the (deputy)? No. I mean that man probably has a wife and kids and he wanted to go home to his wife and kids, and I feel 100 percent that he felt like he was threatened, his life was in danger, or else he wouldn’t have did what he had to do.”

Howell said she doesn’t know if her sister feels the same way or not. But Nicole Cashell does want people to remember that her husband was a good man, Howell said.

“He was a good man,” Howell said. “He just had a problem, and unfortunately, that problem is what led to him getting shot.”

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser

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