Two Former Police Officers Found Guilty For The Murder Of Handcuffed Man
On August 18, 2015, East Point, Georgia police officers Cpl. Howard Weems and Sgt. Marcus Eberhart were indicted on charges related to the April 11, 2014 death of 24-year old Gregory Towns. Eberhart resigned and Weems was terminated after the incident. Their trial began on December 5, 2016.
On April 11, 2014, Weems and Eberhart responded to a domestic violence call in the Atlanta suburb. Another officer was also present. Gregory Towns ran and was apprehended. According to Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard, after apprehending Gregory,the officers handcuffed him. They demanded him to stand and walk to a waiting patrol car. Gregory indicated that he was out of breath and could not stand. Both officers used their tasers on Gregory, and even after attempting to walk but collapsing, the officers continued to tase him.
Gregory was tased 13-14 times.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office gave the cause of death as hypertensive cardiovascular disease exacerbated by physical exertion and electrical stimulation.
At their trial, expert witnesses for the defense contended that Gregory was in ill health from an enlarged heart and high blood pressure. That did not impress the jury.
On December 14, 2016, the jury deliberated for about 30 minutes before returning the guilty verdicts.
Eberthart was convicted of felony murder, aggravated assault, reckless conduct, and violation of oath of office. Eberhart faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Weems was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and reckless conduct. He faces up to 10 years in prison.
Sentencing is scheduled for Wednesday, December 21, 2016.
Gregory’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit in August 2014. Attorney Chris Stewart who represents the family stated;
“He was handcuffed behind his back when this happened, he didn’t have a weapon, he wasn’t the fighting the officers. He was tasered because he was tired and not getting up fast enough. It’s not just against the law, it’s inhumane. You don’t use a Taser like a cattle prod.”
The city settled the lawsuit for a million dollars.