Ga. deputy demoted for shooting recruit


Copyright 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

The Cobb County Sheriff's deputy who killed a recruit during a training session has been demoted and suspended for 30 days without pay, officials said Tuesday.

Cobb Sheriff's Sgt. Al Jackson shot Tara Drummond, a 23-year-old Kennesaw Police Department recruit, on Sept. 13 at the North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy in Austell.

On March 2, a Cobb County grand jury declined to indict Jackson, 49, on any crime. The grand jury was asked to consider two misdemeanor charges against Jackson, reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter.

Jackson pointed his weapon at Drummond during an exercise and fired. The gun, which was supposed to hold dummy rounds, contained live ammunition, and the bullet struck Drummond in the chest.

Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren conducted an administrative hearing Tuesday with Jackson to go over the results of an internal investigation of the incident, according to a news release issued by Nancy Bodiford, Warren's spokesperson.

In addition to the suspension, Jackson, a 26-year veteran, will be demoted from sergeant to deputy rank and will no longer be allowed to teach training classes.

Bodiford's e-mailed news release said Warren would be unavailable for comment Tuesday night.

The statement characterized Jackson's rationale for the shooting as a "decision to incorporate advanced tactical training techniques into basic recruit firearms training [which] was a violation of Sheriff's Office and Academy policy and procedures."

It did give specifics on the techniques.

A separate Cobb police criminal investigation found that recruits in Jackson's class didn't want to follow his instructions to point weapons at their classmates, and that Jackson physically moved them and their guns to bear on one another.

That investigation, completed in November and given to the grand jury, did not recommend charges against Jackson, but was critical of his teaching methods.

Sheriff's Department officials, Jackson's lawyer and the Drummond family could not be reached Tuesday evening. Bodiford said Warren talked to members of Drummond's family after the hearing.

The statement said the Sheriff's Department would review its policies to promote safety of recruits and employees.

"The events of September 13th have had a devastating and life changing impact on Tara's family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers," Warren's statement said. "Unfortunately, there is nothing anyone can do to change the outcome of this tragic accident and the enormous loss felt by her death."

Staff writer Don Plummer contributed to this article. 
March 22, 2006

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