Crime

Deputies face no charges in Crawford County shootout; gunman accused of attempted murder

No charges will be filed against three Crawford County deputies who exchanged fire with a man March 14 outside his home.

Macon Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Cooke made the announcement Wednesday after Crawford County grand jurors indicted Rickey Eugene Smithey Jr. on three counts of attempted murder and three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer stemming from the incident.

Smithey, 31, is being held at the Crawford County jail. A bond hearing likely will be held later this week, Cooke said.

Smithey allegedly shot at the deputies and two civilians using a military-style assault rifle. He also threatened a third civilian with a handgun, Cooke said.

He faces three counts of aggravated assault for the allegations involving the civilians.

Smithey also is charged with five counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to the indictment.

Although the GBI hasn’t submitted a final report of its investigation into the shooting, Cooke said the evidence -- including witness interviews, crime scene analysis and video of the incident -- “leads to one inescapable conclusion.”

“All officers involved acted lawfully at the time of the incident,” he said. “Because the evidence regarding the officers’ conduct is so clear and convincing, none of them will be charged for their use of force.”

Authorities have said a deputy responded to a call about a disturbance at a gas station at the corner of Olive Grove Church Road and U.S. 80 at about 7:50 p.m. March 14.

After trying to calm Smithey, who was armed, a deputy tried to stun him with a stun gun. The probes missed, and Smithey fled on foot to his home nearby.

Two more deputies responded to a call for backup. Smithey was in a field behind his house when the deputies told him to surrender.

Smithey allegedly fired multiple shots toward deputies at about 9 p.m., injuring one of them. All three deputies returned fire.

Smithey is estimated to have fired more than 40 rounds.

Capt. Johnny Cleveland, 60, was struck in the shoulder by shrapnel from a bullet Smithey allegedly fired.

Smithey was shot in the upper arm and hip.

Sheriff Lewis Walker said the three deputies likely will return to duty next week.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.

To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.

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