SANDERSVILLE, Ga. (WJBF) – A family in Washington County, GA wants answers as to why their loved one died while in law enforcement custody. The GBI is investigating what happened when Eurie Lee Martin encountered deputies from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Friday. Those officers responded to a suspicious person call, but in the end that dispatched call, left Martin dead.
We sat down with Martin’s niece, Annie Gilbert-Gibbons after amateur video was shot of the incident in Deepstep, GA.
“I saw the video and it was very difficult to watch,” she told us, adding that now it has the family calling for more answers.
Gilbert-Gibbons described her uncle as someone who typically kept to himself.
She said, “It seems to be some inconsistencies with what was reported.”
The video was taken by someone driving by on Deepstep Road.
GBI, the agency investigating Wasington County Sheriff’s Office after the incident, issued a press release stating deputies went to the location on Deepstep Road after someone reported a suspicious person in town. That person was 58-year-old Eurie Lee Martin and investigators said an altercation occurred between him and deputies when they arrived.
“The video, in my opinion, didn’t support what was going on,” his niece said.
GBI also reported that “deputies deployed a Taser, but after the altercation, he appeared to be in respiratory distress.” He was arrested and handcuffed too. The video, which doesn’t show the moment of impact, does show Martin standing with deputies and then it shows him being tased. He died shortly after at the scene.
“Why was a Taser used and to the extent that it was used? I guess in their way to control the situation? To me it really didn’t seem like the situation was uncontrollable,” Gilbert-Gibbons explained.
Gilbert-Gibbons told us her uncle, Eurie Lee, was walking down Deepstep Road from his home in Milledgeville to visit family in Sandersville. GPS walking directions show that Martin’s trek would have taken him about 9.5 hours. His niece added she is very concerned about the condition of her uncle’s health when he encountered law enforcement because it was 90 plus degrees that day.
“The only thing that my mother stated was that someone from 911 called her to say he was out there walking on the side of the road,” she recalled of the incident before law enforcement was dispatched. “My mother identified exactly who he was. She made it known that he did have a mental illness,” she said.
Gilbert-Gibbons stressed her family understands how this case may mirror other nationally known cases, but they are not advocating protests and riots. They want answers first.
A Special Agent with GBI tells us there was an autopsy performed on Martin in Atlanta, but the medical examiner is going to do more investigating before a cause of death is determined.
GBI also told us there is dashcam video that will be reviewed, but there is no bodycam video.