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Update on Drug War Victim Jonathan Ayers

jonathan-ayers-photosJonathan Ayers was a pastor at the Shoal Creek Baptist Church. One of the people he had been helping was a woman who had a history of problems. One day he gave her a ride and talked to her to see how she was doing. She said she needed some help with back rent, and he gave her $23 — all the cash he had on him.

Ayers didn’t know the woman was being targeted by an undercover plainclothes drug operation. When he dropped her off, they decided to follow him. Ayers immediately went to the convenience store to get some cash from the ATM. Walking out with cash from the ATM, he saw some guys with guns get out of a car. Fearing for his life, he got in his car and pulled out (remember, these were plainclothes cops). The cops shot and killed him as he drove off.

Here’s the blurry video from the Convenience store showing officers shooting at him as he drives away. Here’s the update back in October from Radley Balko.

Now we have a new update on the case:
Grand jury clears officers in minister shooting: Officials claim law enforcement fatally shot pastor after he drove car in threatening way

“Concerning the actions of the officers involved in the death of Jonathan Ayers on Sept. 1, 2009, we find that the use of deadly force by Agent Billy Shane Harrison was legally justified based upon his objectively reasonable belief that such use of force was necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or others,” a statement signed by the grand jurors read. “Based upon this finding, we the Grand Jury believe that the officers involved in this incident would be immune from criminal prosecution pursuant to Official Code of Georgia Annotated 16-3-24.2.”

Surprised? I thought not. Happens all the time in the drug war. Officers create a dangerous situation where none existed and then blame the victim for being in that dangerous situation.

The family of Jonathan Ayers isn’t giving up. They’re suing.

“We are in the process of gathering all the facts surrounding this terrible incident,” [family attorney] Stroberg said. “Once all these facts are in public view, we feel it will be abundantly clear that there was no legal justification for the undercover drug agent to shoot and kill Jonathan Ayers in broad daylight on the streets of Toccoa, Ga.”

Stroberg has been critical of how the case was presented to the grand jury. He said the panel that convened this week was charged with deciding only whether the case should go to a separate grand jury for possible criminal prosecution.

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41 comments to Update on Drug War Victim Jonathan Ayers

  • ray

    You are right…the cops create a dangerous situation where ther was not one…then use the dangerous situation to shoot, in this case, an unarmed pastor who was not involved….when will this war on americans end?

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  • Kozmo

    How can anyone look at that video and believe that the pastor was driving that car in a threatening way? He is backing away from the cops. WTF !!!!

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  • Servetus

    What ‘we the Grand Jury believe’ matters little to the final outcome. In a grand jury proceeding, a district attorney presents selected evidence to grand jurors who don’t get to hear arguments or see evidence from opposing sides. It’s commonly said that a grand jury could indict the pope, and attempts have been made by attorneys groups to eliminate grand juries altogether.

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  • claygooding

    The grand jury system is totally for the state. The state is the only one that provides “picked” information for the jurists to decide whether an indictment is justified.
    Whatever the DA tells them is their only knowledge of the incident. The parents will get the police in a wrongful death suit,or should. Again,depending on the attorneys involved and the amount the family is willing to spend getting it in court.

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  • Why we fight

    Can you say fascist police state.

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  • Why we fight

    When it comes down to it, it doesnt matter whether this pastor was or was not involed in a drug transaction or what ever. The fact is they could have let him go and caught up to him later because of one thing….its called a licsense plate.

    wheres he gonna run to?

    No one deserves to die over a drug investigation.

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  • when a coalition forms, organized under the banner of wrongful, drug war caused deaths, and presents en masse the fatal legacy of Prohibition II and then says “NO MORE!” appealing to public decency and an upholding of the principles of liberty, joined by all our disparate orgs – then we may get some action.

    Getting a larger voice in mainstream media is essential. LEAP has done a great job as have all those independent web surfers and LTE writers out there. Multiple hammer blows have obviously done some critical damage. But we’re not in a good place. Nearly $200 billion in Wall Street bonuses coming up… say what?

    And to think… they are getting ready to tell me that I HAVE to buy insurance but that I can’t smoke my herb (my health insurance comes packaged in a plant used in accordance with common healthy practices like exercise, good diet and lots of pot), then Wall Street, Big Pharma and the corporate-military-industrial-police-incarceration complex has won.

    WDC keeps ranting about “truth” and “science” yet when we point to it it’s like “huh? But what about the children?” from them.

    I’m about 2 steps from throwing up my hands and walking away from our whole movement. If there are leaders in this movement, then lead dammit! Black America would still be drinking from seperate water fountains if people hadn’t physically thrown their bodies against the machine of tyranny.

    We can’t wait much longer…

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  • I tell you what… for a small annual salary of $30K or so I’ll begin sitting in, chaining myself to doors and blockading traffic. While working 50 hrs a week at ending prohibition… I just can’t do it for free. I’ve given up far too much already – and compared to some, I haven’t given up shit.

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  • These stories of drug war victims desolate me. But as prohibition creates increasing numbers of martyrs, it also creates increasing numbers of anti-prohibitionists, willing to stand up to this ridiculous set of policies, based on a ridiculous, archaic philosophy which has already been disproved with alcohol prohibition.

    Pete, I rarely, if not ever comment on your blog, because you usually steal the words straight from my mind. :) To all friends of drug law reform: keep up the good work, and happy holidays!

    Regards,

    Dragan Vojnovic

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  • Cannabis

    Interesting, read the comments at The Times. Not one in support of the officers. Usually doesn’t run that way.

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  • Tim

    They had a bunch of birthers and other disgruntled folks on the TV a few moments ago, using words like “Orwellian” and “Socialist/Communist” and that they were headed to fascism. Yet if you asked them about the drug war I’d bet most would parrot the “drugs are bad, cops are good” line.

    The cognitive dissonance of some otherwise alarmed people on the drug war astounds me. In fact, I think that this is *the* issue that is the cornerstone to preventing the Orwellian 1984 state. Yet people happily submit to employment drug tests and other invasive rules without any thought at all. It’s frightening.

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  • Tim

    An instructive comment.

    Did anyone really expect Brian Rickman to aggressively prosecute this case? He has to work with the cops on a daily basis. If he actually prosecuted the case, or if he recused himself, he’d be frozen out by the cops. Couldn’t be a very effective DA that way.

    The only recourse has always been a federal indictment or a civil suit. Even if those fail, the murderer of Pastor Ayers, Billy Shane Harrison, Brian Rickman and the members of the grand jury will someday have to face judgment from a much higher authority.

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  • Anon

    Justice will find them in this life or the next.

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  • Why we fight

    Tim,
    Im with you on that thought Tim. I’ve use the iceberg analogy with this, the drug war is the 10% of the injustices and where the money goes problem.

    http://www.drugwarrant.com/2009/12/were-not-in-it-for-the-short-haul/#comments

    It seems to me also that those who protest fascisim/communism dont understand the drug war is all part of that.

    Pete, I hear you too…there are days I just wanna give up….but thats what these commies what us to do. Just keep talking.

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  • Why we fight

    Opps sorry… was thinking of pete but posting to Allan 420. I meant to say…

    “Allan420, I hear you too…there are days I just wanna give up….but thats what these commies what us to do. Just keep talking.”

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  • It’s just all pitiful. Jonathan did NOT have to die. Why aren’t they looking at that. I hope you are sleeping well tonite Brian Rickman. I have it on pretty good authority that there are 2 suits forthcoming. The first is a Civil suit that will break this raggedy ass county and the 2nd will bring manslaughter against the officers that “groosly” mishandled this non threatening situation.
    Read Jonathan’s Story and Bio written by his own sister
    @ justice4jonathan.net
    This isn’t over people. Actually it’s just getting started.

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  • DdC

    Thorough Investigation for Rev. Ayers The Only Option
    Oct 19, 2009

    So much for that…
    Georgia’s long history of abuse…

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  • ezrydn

    Kill a human being, get paid administrative leave. What a job!

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  • This happens all over the world…it’s nothing new.

    When I was 18 I was almost shot in broad daylight while minding my own business, and the police department REFUSED to allow me to file charges against the officer, even though it is illegal for an officer to remove his weapon unless his life is in danger. (In Canada, in the US, it’s obviously not a requirement!)

    I was told that my request to file a complaint was on the ground that “it was a reasonable mistake to make.”

    When I pressed the issue again, I was told “The officer had a report of a man with gun, wearing a white suit with a red tie, and you were sitting in a white Camaro with a red interior.”

    How the words “WHITE SUIT” and “RED TIE” can be confused with “WHITE CAMARO” and “RED INTERIOR” I’ll never know…but that’s how the law works…when they get caught screwing up, they LIE THEIR ASSES OFF to get out of it, and it’s completely legal for them to do so.

    If the cops had their way, I’d have been shot in the face point blank when I was 18…and I really don’t much care for that idea.

    Murder is legal…if you’re a cop. Get used to it.

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  • kaptinemo

    “No good deed goes unpunished.”

    As has been my experience throughout my life, and in observing the lives of the truly self-less. They always seem to be sh*t-magnets, with The State dispensing the most brown smelly stuff. In this case, courtesy of bullets. Almost makes you believe in the Devil Hypothesis of History. But some Humans don’t need to blame ‘devils’; they’re perfect stand-ins, themselves.

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  • revolution-starter

    Who cares about a civil suite or any other legal action, at this point a seemingly good person is dead for no reason what so ever. That is a complete disgrace.

    Alan420

    I agree with what you are saying, you can see some of my previous comments on an oped article a few days back. If you have the time email me at projectgreenma@yahoo.com as we seem to have a similar stance on this.

    Thanks!

    Revolution-starter

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  • Rene

    I’m from Toccoa, and I’m very happy with the Grand Jury’s decision. People do NOT have the right to run down a police officer then attempt to run over another! This man wasn’t going about his day minding his own business; he had just left the company of the prostitute that he’d been patronizing for years and didn’t want to get caught. As a pastor, he’d loose his job and all future employment in that field. He chose, instead to run over people and try to escape. The officers did not break any laws, therefore, the family will not win any suit in any court.

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  • kaptinemo

    Nice try, officer, but the video tape doesn’t show that. The videotape shows an evidently frightened taxpayer seemingly being attacked by unknown armed thugs intent upon robbing him.

    And as to the kind of behavior engaged in by the plainclothes police, well, consider this, officer: if you act like the very people you claim to be acting against, and if the actual thugs know this and take advantage of that knowledge, then how are the citizens to tell the difference? Because, the instances of thieves pretending to be police is increasing, so no one knows who is actually police any more. Saying so doesn’t make it so. Given this fact of police poseurs, I can certainly understand why the motorist was evidently in fear for his life and was therefore justified in attempting to escape.

    Or do you believe that the life of your paymasters to be of less value than that of a policeman’s, officer? Your paymasters want to know…

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  • DdC

    OK So it seems my first reply was too honest, I’ll try to PC it for the delicate. René anyone who would justify murder over a drug deal or having sex with a prostitute is totally bonkers. Both charges denied by friends and family, but even if true it is ludicrous to think this would justify shooting someone. Just another whiny plea by a violent puppet of the drug war profiteers. Thugs dressed in black would scare anyone with sense, trying to get away from these thugs is not an uncommon thing. The Narks are murderers for shooting an innocent preacher, You trying to justify it only shows how weak some Georgia citizens are. Same illogical cowardice outlawing hemp candy or shooting Kathryn Johnston. I keep trying to redeem Georgians with thoughts of Underground Atlanta and the Allman Bros. Band. But even they can not drown out the gnashing teeth and hissing noises of their puppets. Traitors for King Georgia, just filthy copsuckers.

    Georgia LEO’s & Politicops have a long history of abuse…

    Anger Spills Over at Killing of Kathryn Johnston
    Thorough Investigation for Rev. Ayers The Only Option
    Candyman Stoner

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  • Hairy Ape

    Ohhh driving in a threatening manner. I hope our brave drug warriors didn’t feel unsafe as they blasted a person to oblivion. Couldn’t catch any real criminals? Ohh that’s right they shoot back wouldn’t want our brave, noble and good drug warriors to be in any danger.

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  • Rene…it is so sad to see you attempt to excuse that execution.

    So…there’s a PC in their car…they didn’t bother to run the plate? They ambush him as he returns to the car with money?

    He’s supposed to take a bunch of armed strangers at their word that they’re LEOs?

    Now, if you’re retarded enough to stand anywhere near a vehicle where you’ve scared some shitless, you might deserve a tire track on your trousers.

    This whole drug war is complete crap, and for you to attempt to soft-pedal it in any way is disgusting and base.

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  • DdC

    Tragic Mistakes Led to Shooting
    Nobody had to die on Sept. 1, but because of mistakes, misjudgments and missed opportunities to resolve the situation without gunfire, one person, tragically, did so.

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  • Hope

    This thing with plain clothes officers coming on like a bunch of thugs has got to stop.

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  • [...] when drug war victim Jonathan Ayers feared for his life when undercover officers approached his car, and backed into one of them when [...]

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  • Margie

    When you see the video, he is turning his wheels to miss the cops. They didn’t use good judgement by shooting him. The da is very unethical. He should have excused himself from tis case. He was the boss of these men. That is a conflict of interest. He should run out of office.

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  • Concerned Citizen

    I hope the Reverend Ayers’ family brings a successful lawsuit that finds both the law enforcment agency and the individual officers to be financially liable for Mr. Ayers’ death. It’s time to end the so-called war on drugs. It’s become a war on American citizens (Kathryn Johnson in Atlanta a couple of years ago, and now Jonathan Ayers, also in Georgia). If Mr. Ayers’ had been gunned down in a foreign country, there would be outrage. Do we as Americans _really_ want to be stopped at gunpoint by thug-dressed people claiming to be the police? These officers could have easily handled this without violence; it’s time to make them and their superiors pay for their ridiculous, under-trained, over-zealous attack on an ordinary American citizen. It’s time to end the so-called drug war, time to let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards and put the drug dealers AND the drug warrior cowboys out of business.

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  • mark

    Why is it when a cop thats not even qualified to be using a gun shoots and kills an innocent young man trying to get out of arms way is swept under the rug and a man that shoots at someone that breaks in his home is charged. This system is so screwed up its pitiful. We all must take a stand because this is only getting worse. We must call our senators and demand officers take more responsibility for there actions!!!!

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  • Just Peachy

    You guys are kidding, right? Have you actually read any reports from the GBI. There is documentation there to prove the agent’s certification/qualifications. The agent was very well qualified. Are you really so naive that you believe everything you hear on the news? Maybe you too are trying to cloud the water…do you stand to financially benefit from the lawsuit as well? Lawsuit Lottery, that’s what this is all really about. The accusations that are being slung are false and will very likely bite the slanderers in the end. Is stupidity contagious on this site or are you mere criminals lashing out at any authority.

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  • Just Peachy — if you have actual details that you’d like to share with us that sheds light on the subject, feel free. We’d love to know. We’re reporting the public information that is coming out — vague statements like yours do nothing to “clear” the water.

    I personally don’t have any particular interest in a civil lawsuit (certainly no financial interest). Quite frankly, those usually end up getting paid by the taxpayer and the culprits don’t even learn a lesson.

    I’d like to see the criminal case re-opened against the officers and anyone else involved in the decisions that resulted in cops shooting an innocent man.

    Clearly, there was a breakdown somewhere — a violation of the public trust in the killing of a citizen — that should result in either criminal charges or someone losing their job.

    We’re not criminals. We’re not the ones who killed. We’re also not just lashing out at authority. Only at authority that abuses the power they have been granted by the citizens who employ them.

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  • DdC

    Brunch with Fruit and Crackers

    >>>Just Peachy
    March 18th, 2010 at 10:15 am

    You guys are kidding, right?

    Two narks and an anteater go into a bar…

    >>>Have you actually read any reports from the GBI. There is documentation there to prove the agent’s certification/qualifications.

    I’m not big on technicalities. He should be tried as a terrorist.

    >>>The agent was very well qualified. Are you really so naive that you believe everything you hear on the news?

    We usually hear stupid things like “he was well qualified” and other such cheerleading. Doesn’t sound like he was too qualified if he shoots preachers.

    >>>Maybe you too are trying to cloud the water…do you stand to financially benefit from the lawsuit as well?

    Yes when the narkosluts are put on a deserted island, maybe the plastic bottle island from all the pollution. Pollution is pollution, narkosluts or plastic bottles. Special place reserved for the Kinkycaid Gossipers.

    >>>Lawsuit Lottery, that’s what this is all really about.

    Where do they sell tickets?

    >>>The accusations that are being slung are false and will very likely bite the slanderers in the end. Is stupidity contagious on this site or are you mere criminals lashing out at any authority.

    OK, but that doesn’t change anything. Narkosluts murder people and with or without authority they choose to kill Americans over possession of drugs. By your authorizing such behavior I can only assume you are the one getting paid as a narkoslut yourself. I highly suggest Georgia either susceed or join the 21st century.

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  • Margie

    I hope Abby Ayers gets all that she is suing for. These guys are nothing more than thugs with a badge. I hope that they are no longer immunized by what the bought off grand jury did for them. It is time for the dirt to come out. They killed a man and nothing was done about it. They ruined his wife and child’s life and have no remorse about it.

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  • Hope

    Just Peachy. “Lawsuit Lottery, that’s what this is all really about.”

    What’s wrong with you, Just Peachy? Lawsuit Lottery?

    She and her child… all of us… have suffered a grave injustice with this man’s killing. Her husband was killed, the ultimate transgression of one human against another, in a terrifying, dangerous to everyone around them, and deadly display by wildly overzealous and trigger happy, perhaps even dangerously unstable and volatile elements of law enforcement. How can you deny that?

    That’s not a frivolous or light thing. What could possibly make you think that it is?

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  • hindianguy

    Just Peachy,

    Seems like the only stupid naive scum here was you. The GBI report you were touting ended up confirming that the agent was completely unqualified, had criminal history of theft and that other officers i.e. wilson etc. were actively and intentionally lying to GBI and falsifying his record, and have accordingly been charged with a felony.

    Seems like the only criminals here are scum pigs like you lying through their teeth, just to save their own skin. Too bad that didn’t work out too well for you.

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  • Alisha420forlife

    “Good Job to all of you who believe this is wrong doing! For it is, and was a complete illegal seizure that violates the 4th amendment. And to you “rene” who actually has the decency to say that this crime was justice, I feel deeply sorry for you and how your were raised, cuz this deary was no where near justice. And rene before you decide to take it into ur opinon again i suggest you read ur rights and amendments. Cuz this case violates a whole lot of them. Good day to everyone, and as for Jonathans family i hope you get everything out of the twisted so-called justice system we have.”

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  • Alisha420forlife

    I also have read some statements made from “just peachy”, and all i have to say is grow up. And if you dont like the comments made and the well said opinions expressed then get off the website, because no one this page needs a dumb ass like you or any other hypocrit saying there was justice in this case!!! thanks and have a good day.

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