Second fatal shooting by police in Cobb County on suicidal person call in two days

Smyrna police headquarters in article about methamphetamine bustSmyrna Police headquarters (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

For the second time in two days, a police officer in Cobb County has fatally shot a person when on a call involving a suicidal person. In this case the involved officer was with the Smyrna Police Department.

According to a public information release by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the GBI has been asked by the Smyrna Police Department to conduct an independent investigation of the fatal shooting of Unsfored Lewis Thurmond III, 27, of Smyrna.

The GBI described the incident as follows in its public information release:

On Saturday, September 18, 2021, the GBI was requested by the Smyrna Police Department to investigate an officer involved shooting. 

Preliminary information indicates that at 3:22 p.m., officers responded to 3014 North Lincoln Trace Avenue, Smyrna, Cobb County, Georgia, following a 911 call about a suicidal man.  When officers arrived on scene, they found Unsfored Lewis Thurmond III, 27, of Smyrna, and attempted to negotiate with him for several minutes.  During the incident, Thurmond pointed a firearm that he had been holding towards officers.  An officer fired his gun, striking Thurmond.  Thurmond was taken to a local area hospital where he died as a result of his injuries. 

No officers were injured during the incident. 

The GBI is conducting an independent investigation and once complete, the casefile will be given to the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office for review.

The other fatal shooting of a person in Cobb County when police were called in on a suicidal person report was on September 17, when Matthew Joseph Wilbanks, 41, of Marietta was killed by an officer of the Cobb County Police Department.

The GBI is also investigating that shooting.

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.