Washington County deputies fired after investigation into man’s death ends

Three Washington County sheriff’s deputies involved in the fatal shocking of a man with a Taser stun gun this summer have been fired.

Deputies Michael Howell, Henry Lee Copeland and Rhett Scott were terminated Tuesday after being on administrative leave since the July 7 episode, when Eurie Martin died after being hit with a stun gun multiple times.

A GBI investigation into the use of force recently concluded that the deputies violated standard operating procedure, according to a Thursday release from the sheriff’s office.

A video of the incident showed that Martin, of Milledgeville, appeared to be experiencing physical distress before becoming unresponsive. He died in the front yard of a home in Deepstep, where police encountered him while checking out a report of a suspicious person.

“I will not tolerate violations of my standard operating procedures, especially where it involves the use of force,” Sheriff Thomas Smith said in the statement. “I am very grateful for the patience shown by the Washington County community. .... The criminal justice system will have an opportunity to properly evaluate this incident and respond accordingly.”

Additional details are expected to be announced Friday.

Laura Corley: 478-744-4334, @Lauraecor