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Crawford County man indicted for shootout with deputies | News

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Crawford County man indicted for shootout with deputies
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A Crawford County grand jury Wednesday indicted Rickey Eugene Smithey Jr. on 14 counts, including aggravated assault on a peace officer, aggravated assault, criminal attempt to commit a felony and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

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District Attorney David Cooke announced the indictment during a Wednesday afternoon news conference. Cooke said the charges stem from a March 14 incident in which Smithey allegedly assaulted three Crawford County law enforcement officers and three civilians.

"The indictment alleges that Mr. Smithey attempted to murder three law enforcement officers with a military style assault rifle by shooting at them. Additionally, the indictment further alleges Mr. Smithey shot at two civilians with that same rifle, and threatened a third civilian with a handgun. Finally, the indictment alleges related firearm charges for the unlawful possession of a firearm during the commission of those felonies," Cooke said.

During the shooting spree, Capt. Johnny Cleveland suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder. Smithey was shot twice, once in the hip and once in the shoulder. Two other deputies, Lt. Keith Edwards and Delane Hill went to the scene when Cleveland requested backup.

A GBI news release at the time said the deputies responded to Racers Gas Station at the corner of Olive Grove Church Road and Highway 80. GBI Special Agent-In-Charge J.T. Ricketson described the incident as a serious gun battle. "In my 31 years, I've probably worked 40-50 use of force investigations involving police officers. I have never worked one where the subject has fired as many rounds as were fired in this case."

Ricketson said a clerk at the store called 911 after she had an argument with Smithey and feared for her life. Smithey allegedly took a semi-automatic pistol out of his pocket several times during the confrontation with the deputy. The deputy ordered Smithey to keep his hands off the pistol and he didn't comply.

An attempt to tase Smithey failed and Smithey then ran from the store to his home next to the gas station, officials said at the time.

After disobeying orders to surrender, Smithey allegedly fired several shots at the deputies, one striking Cleveland. The deputies returned fire, hitting Smithey twice.

During the news conference, Cooke said the deputies were justified in returning fire.

"Based on my review of the evidence in this case and multiple discussions with the GBI, no charges will be filed against the officers for returning fire in this incident," Cooke said. He added that all officers acted "lawfully at the time of the incident."

Cooke said a bond hearing will be held later for Smithey. Cooke plans to oppose bond.


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