Skip to comments.Georgia Baptist pastor killed in botched drug sting
Posted on 09/05/2009 7:35:34 AM PDT by bamahead
LAVONIA, Ga. (ABP) -- Members of a Southern Baptist church in Northeast Georgia want answers about the police-shooting death of their 29-year-old pastor in a drug-sting operation gone wrong.
Jonathan Ayers, pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, Ga., died during the night of Sept. 1, hours after being shot by undercover police officers outside a gas station where he had just gotten money from an ATM machine.
The Stephens County Sheriff's Office initially identified the shooting victim as a suspect involved in a drug transaction. Later officials clarified that drug enforcement agents were not investigating Ayers, but a woman who was riding in his car whom he had dropped off moments earlier.
Officials said the officers didn't know who Ayers was and wanted to talk to him. They were in plain clothes, but they claim they wore badges around their necks and identified themselves as police when they asked him to open his car door. Instead, they say, Ayers put the car in reverse and fled, striking one officer and causing minor injuries.
Police fired at the fleeing vehicle. One bullet struck Ayers in the abdomen. He managed to drive away but crashed about a half mile away. Police found him conscious and alert, but he died several hours later after surgery.
Police said after striking the officer, Ayers drove his car toward another officer in a "threatening manner." Friends and family believe Ayers thought the men were going to rob him and that he got scared and tried to run away.
Police have not identified the woman, who is charged with selling cocaine. Ayers' sister, Rebecca Floyd, said her younger brother was known to help strangers.
"I could bet my life on it that he did not know her," Floyd told television station WYFF News 4. "I could bet my life on it, because that's the kind of person he was. He was a good Christian man . His goal was to lead souls to Christ."
Roger Shirley, a member of Shoal Creek, told the Anderson, S.C., Independent Mail that Ayers had led 18 people to Christ and baptized 12 in the little more than a year since he became pastor of the struggling congregation, founded in 1789. Shirley said he believed the pastor was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Ayers had recently started a blog, where he described having "three loves in my life: Jesus Christ, my wife, Abby, and the Church." The couple's first baby is due in February.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting. The officers involved are on administrative leave with pay.
Ayers' brother-in-law, Matt Carpenter, told AccessNorthGa.com that the family was first informed Ayers died in a traffic accident, and then that he had been shot. Hours later, they learned he died in an officer-involved shooting.
A surveillance video shows Ayers calmly entering the store a few minutes before the shooting. A black Cadillac Escalade SUV pulls up next to a gas pump beside his car. A man jumps out before it comes to a complete stop. Ayers attempts to drive away, as officers chase after and fire shots at the car.
Ayers' funeral service is scheduled at 2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 4, at Shoal Creek Baptist Church.
I don’t care what they have on a string around their necks, I probably wouldn’t submit to anyone not in uniform.
You don't want Barney, Goober, and Gomer on a "sting" SWAT team.....especially if Andy is out of town.
Maybe that’s what this guy thought.
Exactly right. Daylight donuts was closed, so they had to go hassle the locals. And they wonder why people today hate cops.
Useless trivia dept: Lavonia Ga. is the hometown of Otto Price, Christian music producer, bassist, most notably with DC Talk during their peak.
There is something odd about small towns having undercover SWAT teams.
Too many of these incidents gone bad involve non-uniformed officers, unmarked cars etc.
From the grainy video...the agents looked like masked men who could easily have been attempting a car jacking.
Also from the video, one of the agents is definiately limping after the Pastor's car backs up and wheels around.
I believe the pastor thought he was being robbed and tried to get away. The agents did not know that he was a pastor and thought he had backed over one of them in an attempt to flee and so opened fire.
RIP Pastor, God keep your soul and comfort your family, your wife and unborn child, your family, friends, and congregation. What a horrible mistake and set of circumstances.
Unless they are armed ONLY with these:
...and even then, there should be some adult supervision and they should have passed a course on the proper use of them.
We don't want one of them injured, complaining "I was cleaning it and it went off by accident".
Once police departments were allowed to classify vehicles as “deadly weapons”, they were legally justified in shooting anybody who so much as moves (points) a moving vehicle in their direction. The really scary part is that it seems the modern cop *WANTS* to use deadly force as soon as the standard of plausible justification has been met.That’s why it has become standard procedure to kill a persons dogs during the execution of a search warrant.
When they come running up yelling and pointing guns like a bunch of barbarians how can you know they are cops?
If the officers are doing their duty in the 'War on Drugs', they ought to be in uniform.
Gitmo is full of enemy combatants-- who weren't wearing uniforms.
If he was black or Muslim, then there would be race riots!
But since he is a white male Christian, the media will look the other way.
“When they come running up yelling and pointing guns like a bunch of barbarians how can you know they are cops?”
Because they are Federally licensed thugs, as compared to the more common freelance thugs.
Seems to me that our country needs a secret society that welds out justice in cases like this, since our justice department is unable or unwilling to deal with it.
Ok, to be factual I would like to see all reports internal and external from the Police, County Sheriff and State Justice Departments, before I condemn those that shot him then charging them with murder...from what I saw there is no excuse for these officers or anyone that works with them to do what I saw on the tape. This almost looks like an ambush or Car Jacking.
And one more thing regarding, ...striking one officer and causing minor injuries. Again from what I saw, either these two Stupid Clowns for cops are frign morons or a couple of fairies that deserved to be given the death penalty just on the lie of minor injuries...now you mean Officer Escalade was dented when they let the car roll into the street, this is the reason to kill someone.
Further, since when does playing Thugsky and Chump entitle two POS to Shaft someone under the color of law.
And the war on drugs claims another victim
Can’t a pastor just hang out and snort coke with his whore in peace anymore?
The police “story” was that the two officer identified themselves and tried to talk to Ayers, and then Ayers fled.
But the video clearly shows that the cops had their guns out before Ayers fled, and that the one cop was running behind his car with a gun drawn before Ayers backed over him.
SO there is no way they were already talking to him BEFORE the confrontation started.
There is something odd about having unmarked cars with non-uniformed police officers assigned the job of questioning people.
First, it leads to accidents like this. Second, what’s the point of being undercover if you supposedly are going to jump out of your car with badges and yelling “police”? That will blow your cover.
They had the guy’s car and license plate, they should have phoned it in an had a marked car pull him over for questioning. Or they could have driven after him and pulled him over with their siren, which would make it more clear they were cops.
The problem I have with that suggestion is that, while it is horrible what happened to the man, and it was wrong, I’m not sure that the cops acted with malice, that they intended to kill someone without provocation, or that they deserve to die for their error.
IN fact, I doubt the cops had criminal intent here, they just made some bad choices. They probably did think they were in danger. Doesn’t excuse them, but it means they shouldn’t be put to death for their actions.
I was wondering what he was doing there to begin with. I hope it was outreach but my cynical side is winning this one.
There is no evidence that this man had anything to do with the woman he gave a ride to. He was a young married man with a pregnant wife.
There isn’t even any evidence given that the woman was actually a criminal — only that the police had interest in her.
It helps to at least try to learn some facts before impugning a dead man’s character.
I think the cops ID’s the girl in the car and presumed the Pastor had something to do with it...then he backed up (justifiably, IMHO) to try and get away from what he thought were carjackers or thiefs, and they opened fire on him when one of theirs was bumped, or had his foot run over by the car.
I would describe myself as “law & order”, but these SWAT tactics need to be seriously examined. If these guys want to play assault troops, then they should enlist and head to Afghanistan.
In this instance, who would be likely to assume that armed men jumping out of an Escalade would be police? In an Escalade? Yea, right. Who usually drives Escalades?
Since all cops are evil and and presumed guilty,I suppose it is absurd to suggest that someone transporting a coke dealer and who goes to such links to evade capture might in fact be the guilty party.
The logic expressed on this thread seems to be- if anyone tries to arrest you, if they claim to be police run then down or shoot them because they are probably not; if they show you badges run them down or shoot them because the badges are probably fake. Why stop there, the uniforms can be fakes, patrol cars could be props, maybe its not even a real police station.
What really confuses me is that I love the FreeRepublic and its posters, I find the site to be a beacon and refuge of rationality,facts and common sense on an internet full of BS, except when it comes to police arrests or raids gone bad and then FR seams to morph into a paranoid anti-law enforcement rants, every encounter between police and citizens is immediately seen as another “Ruby Ridge”.
It may turn out to be as you all speculate, a case of gross police misconduct, but at the moment you have not anything like sufficient evidence to support that conclusion.
“Cant a pastor just hang out and snort coke with his whore in peace anymore?”
I am in awe of your perception and wit.
His wife was 16 weeks pregnant. I hate cops more and more everyday.
...drug enforcement agents were not investigating Ayers, but a woman who was riding in his car whom he had dropped off moments earlier... the officers... were in plain clothes, but... wore badges around their necks and identified themselves as police when they asked him to open his car door. Instead, they say, Ayers put the car in reverse and fled, striking one officer and causing minor injuries.IOW, Obama will be calling them, and everyone else in the dep't, stupid, very soon now.
The problem in this country is TOO MANY secret societies running things.
The pastor is just more collateral damage in the war on drugs.
“I was wondering what he was doing there to begin with. I hope it was outreach but my cynical side is winning this one.”
He was at a gas station in a town of less than 2000 residents, what do you consider suspicious about that?
Good question...& he deserves to get shot for that alone. Next story, move along!
In before the LOL.
I would lay good money that men with guns jumping out of an Escalade didn't have my best interests at heart.
Why didn't they pick up the woman when got out of the car?
Did they call in the car plates to see who was the driver?
Why wait for him to get in car?
“I suppose it is absurd to suggest that someone transporting a coke dealer and who goes to such links to evade capture might in fact be the guilty party”
Yet your logic is impeccable, the evidence that the pastor is guilty (he knew his passenger was a drug dealer and that the people confronting him were police, not armed assailants) is irrefutable.
“The pastor is just more collateral damage in the war on drugs.”
The most insidious part of the war on drugs is the transfer of assets to police agencies (cash is often confiscated with no charges filled), wonder where that Cadilac Escalade came from. Many police departments are beginning to behave like gangs and I sometimes wonder if all of the cop shows actually influence their behavior.
1)Since they had gone to the trouble of identifying the woman with the pastor as a "coke dealer", how much harder could it have been to identify a small town pastor when you have access to his vehicle's license tag number?
2)How did they know that he knew her to be a coke dealer?
Woe be it to our society when someone is held to account for the transgressions of any stranded motorist or hitchhiker they offer assistance to.
3)"Links" to evade capture?
So let me get this straight... If immediately after using an ATM, two guys in civilian clothes jump out of a vehicle that can best be described as the "thug vehicle of choice" and start running towards me with weapons drawn, I should hang around and submit to whatever they demand because they just MIGHT be cops?
Strange, but on nearly every thread of this nature, we are treated to a lecture by some bootlicker on how we should consider how cops, TRAINED cops, are required to make split second judgment calls in life or death situations. Now, a young, small town PREACHER who is completely oblivious to any danger is supposed to react in a split second to being surprised by multiple armed attackers without resorting to the "fight or flight" instinct?
Now we hold unarmed preachers to a higher standard than trained, armed police officers?
Why did the cops have to shoot him to get him to stop, when they could easily followed him and stopped him later with a marked cop car?
I disagree that the cop life was in danger after watching the video. This is a made-up excuse by the cop to justify your shooting the guy dead! And to save your a$$!
“IN fact, I doubt the cops had criminal intent here, they just made some bad choices. They probably did think they were in danger. Doesnt excuse them, but it means they shouldnt be put to death for their actions.”
First of all, Intent has nothing to do with it, just as it wouldn’t if you “made a mistake” and shot someone.
Second, I didn’t suggest anyone should be “put to death”.
It used to be that a police officer was an honorable profession.
These days, they're not far removed from the thugs they're supposed to be arresting.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.