Cobb police officer fatally shoots man allegedly advancing with knife, GBI investigating

Cobb County Police Department Crime Scene Unit vehicleCobb police Crime Scene Unit vehicle (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has been asked by the Cobb County Police Department to do an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of Matthew Joseph Wilbanks, 41, of Marietta, by a Cobb County police officer this afternoon.

The public information release from the GBI describes the incident as follows:

Marietta, GA (September 17, 2021) – On Friday, September 17, 2021, the GBI was requested by the Cobb County Police Department (CCPD) to investigate an officer involved shooting. Preliminary information indicates that at approximately 12:02 a.m., CCPD responded to 4592 N. Landing Drive, Marietta, Cobb County, Georgia, 30066, regarding a 911 call in reference to a domestic dispute regarding a suicidal man. When officers responded, they located Matthew Joseph Wilbanks, 41, of Marietta, who was armed with a knife. During the incident, Wilbanks advanced towards officers while holding the knife. An officer discharged his firearm, striking Wilbanks. Wilbanks died on scene. No officers were injured during the incident.

The GBI will conduct an independent investigation. Upon completion, it will be turned over to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office for review.

The GBI’s role in officer-involved shootings

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation routinely investigates the shooting of individuals by police officers, as well as any time an officer discharges a firearm while on duty, at the request of the police agency involved in the shooting.

Natalie Ammons, the Deputy Director of the GBI’s Office of Public Affairs explained to us how the system works.

Police agencies are not required to request outside investigation of officer involved shootings, and there is no formal agreement between the GBI and local police departments.

But police agencies make the request so that an independent agency does the investigation in an incident involving their own officers.

The investigations are carried out by Special Agents in a regional office within the area where the police agency is located. Cobb County, and much of the rest of metro Atlanta, is in the GBI’s Region 10, based in Conyers.

In Region 10, officer involved shootings and corruption investigations are the primary investigations Special Agents do, while in more rural areas with fewer police resources the agents handle a wider range of criminal investigations.

There is no special unit or division that conducts the investigation of officer involved shootings.

The announcements of the investigations can be found at the GBI’s press release web page.

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