Crime

Slain deputy was due to get off work, but he went to help suicidal man anyway

Surviving deputy describes encounter with Christopher Calmer

Monroe County deputy Jeff Wilson testified May 8, 2017, at a pre-trial hearing in the murder case against Christopher Calmer, describing how he and slain deputy Michael Norris walked up the door of Calmer's parents' house while responding to a rep
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Monroe County deputy Jeff Wilson testified May 8, 2017, at a pre-trial hearing in the murder case against Christopher Calmer, describing how he and slain deputy Michael Norris walked up the door of Calmer's parents' house while responding to a rep

It was near the end of Monroe County deputy Michael Norris’ shift Sept. 13, 2014, when he was dispatched to a suicide attempt at a home near Interstate 75 and Pate Road.

Fellow deputy Jeff Wilson, who’d just come on duty, offered to take the call, but Norris said he was going in that direction anyway.

The deputies headed out together, driving as fast as they could toward the Haley Lane house in the rain with their lights and sirens on, Wilson testified Monday.

Christopher Calmer’s uncle had called 911 saying Calmer had been holding a gun to his own head, “acting out of his mind” while mocking the fear felt by the uncle, Calmer’s mother and another family member.

“We are deathly afraid,” the man told a dispatcher, saying Calmer was alone in the house with his bedridden father while other family members had run outside.

He said Calmer had said he wanted to “go find a cop so he could shoot at them and they would kill him.”

The 911 call and Wilson’s dashboard-camera footage was played during a Monday hearing in Monroe County Superior Court.

Calmer, who is charged with fatally shooting the 24-year-old Norris and injuring Wilson, could face the death penalty if he is convicted at a murder trial. Testimony is set to begin next month.

Monroe County sheriff's deputy Jeff Wilson's patrol car dash camera video was played during a pre-trial hearing May 8, 2017, in the case of Christopher Calmer, the man charged with the shooting death of deputy Michael Norris. Wilson was injured du

His attorneys argued at the Monday hearing that Calmer was justified in firing on the officers, who didn’t have an arrest warrant or order for his civil commitment.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Bobbitt countered that the attorneys didn’t provide evidence that Calmer was in fear for his life or defending someone else when he fired on two deputies who were wearing their sheriff’s office uniforms.

Towaliga Judicial Circuit Chief Superior Court Judge Tommy Wilson denied Calmer’s lawyers’ motion after the hearing.

Jury selection for Calmer’s trial is set to begin Tuesday.

‘A sense of rage’

Calmer rested his head on his attorneys’ table for much of Monday’s hearing, including the 15 minutes or so when his attorneys played the 911 call that Calmer’s uncle had placed.

Wilson testified that he talked with Calmer’s uncle in the driveway before following Norris up a wheelchair ramp to the porch.

He said he peered through a window beside the front door as Norris turned the door knob and gently pushed the door open.

It was dark inside the house, but Wilson could see a figure sitting in a chair facing away from the door, he said.

“I said, ‘Chris’ and that was it,” Wilson testified. “Mr. Calmer stood up and started immediately shooting.”

Wilson’s dash-camera footage shows the deputies as they walked up to the door. Seconds later, they fall to the ground.

At some point Calmer came over to the right side of the door and locked eyes with Wilson, the deputy testified.

“I was looking at him in the eyes. He was looking at me,” Wilson said. “He had a sense of rage about him.”

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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