Even after he was shot by a Dalton Police Department officer in a hand and a leg, a man wouldn’t stop fighting the officer, according to a witness to the incident Monday morning on Abutment Road.
Wouldn’t stop fighting when officers tried to handcuff him. Wouldn’t stop fighting as four officers tried to hold him down on a gurney, the witness said.
“He would not quit,” said Rod Ackley, who was stopped in the road in his vehicle as officers tried to arrest the man, identified by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation as David Schmitt of Dalton. “It took them quite a while just to get him in cuffs after he had been shot. After they were able to cuff him, both got up and they had blood all the way up to their elbows. Even when they tried to pick him up and put him on the gurney, he was still fighting them and trying to head butt them and everything else. It took four of them just to hold him down. They were trying to keep him down and he wouldn’t stay down.”
Schmitt was shot after an officer responded to calls to 911 around 9 a.m. about a man behaving erratically and running in and out of traffic near Sonoco Paper Products at 2580 Abutment Road. Schmitt was taken to Hamilton Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, the GBI said. The officer who shot him had cuts and bruises, according to GBI Special Agent in Charge Joe Montgomery.
Montgomery, of the Calhoun office, said Schmitt was shot in a hand and a leg. Warrants were taken out Monday afternoon for him by the police department for aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer and felony obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
According to the GBI, which has taken over the investigation into the shooting at the request of the police department, when the officer approached Schmitt, Schmitt attacked the officer, who used his Taser on Schmitt. Schmitt then took the officer’s Taser and tried to use it on him.
“The officer retreated to create distance from Schmitt as Schmitt continued to charge the officer, attempting to fire the Taser at the officer,” a GBI press release said. “The officer then fired his service weapon several times at Schmitt, striking him.”
“Even after he was shot and Tased, he was still struggling,” Montgomery said. “I am just glad he didn’t approach the public in that way.”
The press release said 911 calls indicated the man was “agitated” and "stopping cars and running into the streets in the area" of the intersection of Abutment Road and Callahan Road.
“I believe we had several reports that he was almost being hit by trucks that were coming up and stuff like that,” said police department spokesman Bruce Frazier. “When our first officer arrived on the scene ... he made contact with him. During that interaction, there was some kind of altercation. During that altercation our officer fired his gun and hit the suspect.”
Frazier said Schmitt was taken to Hamilton Medical Center and was in “stable” condition. The name of the officer was not released, and Frazier said he has been placed on paid administrative leave per department policy when there is an officer-involved shooting.
While other officers were on the scene when Schmitt was finally subdued, Frazier said the officer who fired the shot was by himself when the shooting occurred. Frazier said the officer did not have a body camera. None of the other responding officers sustained injuries.
Ackley, who said he is a delivery driver for one of the businesses in the heavily industrialized area, said two officers were on the scene when he got there and stopped his truck in the road.
“Two Dalton city police officers were already there and they were on the side in the grass right there in front of Sonoco exchanging punches with him," he said. "I saw him go down and then get up and start running, and then I saw him flip and go down into the curb, and I thought he had been Tased. I didn’t hear a gunshot.”
Ackley said that as combative as the man was, he didn’t blame the officer for shooting him.
“He was throwing a lot of punches at them, and they really didn’t have a choice,” Ackley said. “He was acting so crazy they had to subdue him. They couldn’t let him go. Obviously, something was wrong with him. It was unreal. It was absolutely nuts."
“He was on the side of the road when I (first) saw him and he didn’t have a shirt on and he was throwing his arms around real crazy like he was upset about something,” Ackley said. “One of the officers tried to grab a hold of him and he exchanged (punches) with him and they were down on the ground. I think when he got up he was trying to run from the officer, and the officer (did a leg sweep) and he went down again. It expanded from there and the other officer got in and between the two of them, they still couldn’t hold him.”
According to Montgomery, the officer who shot Schmitt was carrying a Taser with two cartridges in it. The officer was able to use the Taser on Schmitt, and when Schmitt took the Taser away from the officer, he shot at the officer, hitting him with one of the electric prongs. Both prongs of a Taser cartridge must be in contact with the skin for the electrical shock to have an effect.
Montgomery said when the investigation is complete it will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office.
“As far as any charges (against the police officer), we don’t make any determination, and that is something that the DA’s office would determine,” Montgomery said. “We just gather the facts, and the DA’s office will interpret the law and decide if there is anything warranted.”
A request for the 911 calls was not immediately responded to Monday afternoon. Under Georgia law, agencies have up to three days to respond to an open records request.