Deputy who shot man cleared of wrongdoing|[02/02/08]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 2, 2008

Before adjourning Friday, Warren County grand jurors exonerated a deputy sheriff who, earlier this week, shot and wounded a distraught 30-year-old man who was threatening him with a butcher knife.

Cleared of any wrongdoing, the unnamed deputy, who on Sunday shot James L. Goldsmith outside a home at 2462 Old Highway 27, will be reinstated to full duty Monday, Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said Friday. The deputy had been on routine leave with pay.

As a matter of procedure, done when anyone is shot by a law enforcement officer, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigations presented its findings in the case to the grand jury. After examination, jurors reported to Warren County Circuit Judge Frank Vollor they felt the officer’s actions were done to protect his life and that of a fellow law enforcement at the scene.

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A preliminary policy review earlier in the week also indicated the deputy acted within the scope of his duties, Pace said.

At around 1:10 a.m. Sunday, fewer than 20 minutes before Goldsmith was shot, a relative phoned 911 reporting Goldsmith was belligerent and had injured himself. Authorities would not say what the caller’s relation was to Goldsmith, but said it appeared Goldsmith was living at the Old Highway 27 residence.

Arriving within 5 minutes of the call, two deputies were told by the relative that Goldsmith had fired a gun inside the house and fled.

A .270-caliber rifle was discovered near the back door. The deputies followed a blood trail and located Goldsmith hiding in a stand of trees about 100 yards from the house.

Pace said the man was ordered to drop the butcher knife he was holding but ran toward the deputies instead. After the order was ignored a second time, one of the deputies fired, striking the subject in mid-torso with one round.

Emergency medical workers, who had been dispatched following a report that Goldsmith was cut and bleeding, were waiting nearby and began treating him within three minutes.

A River Region Medical Center spokesman said Friday night that information on Goldsmith’s condition was unavailable.

He had been reported by a hospital spokesman to be in fair condition earlier this week.

Criminal charges, including aggravated assault, may be filed against Goldsmith, Pace said.

The last time a Warren County Sheriff’s Department officer shot a person was in 2002.

The suspect in that case died, but, as in the recent case, the officer involved was cleared of wrongdoing by a subsequent MBI investigation and grand jury review.