Man shot in self-defense by Athens cop receives probation in plea deal

An Athens man who was shot by an Athens-Clarke County police officer in self-defense last year was recently sentenced to probation.

 

Justin Tremell Scott, 23, was also sentenced to a year in jail, but given credit for time he already served since his arrest last August. He was released from custody May 11


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On April 23, 2016, Officer David Kelley shot Scott in the face when it appeared Scott was going for a gun. The early morning encounter occurred in the parking lot of Golden Pantry on Barnett Shoals Road, after the officer observed who he believed to be Scott and another man inside a car pouring liquor into a cup.

The shooting was recorded by the officer’s body camera, and the video earned the officer immediate support from superiors who said it clearly showed Kelly shot in self-defense.

The video released by police shows a pistol in Scott’s pocket. The officer is seen pointing his gun at Scott when Scott quickly reaches for his weapon, prompting Kelley to fire twice. Police said one shot missed Scott and the other struck Scott in the face.

“The officer was placed in a position where he had no other choice but to defend himself or face being shot and killed right there in the parking lot,” Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott Freeman said.

Police said the officer was exonerated by an internal affairs investigation by his department and also after a review by the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation also cleared the officer of any wrongdoing and charged Scott with one count of aggravated assault. Scott was arrested after a brief hospitalization and subsequently released from jail upon posting a $20,000 bond.

Scott was arrested a second time, in Aug 2016, when authorities searching his Creekwood Drive home found his cellphone contained selfie photographs of him holding a gun and positioning his fingers in what appeared to be a gang sign, according to court documents. He was arrested because he could not possess firearms as a condition of his bond.

Last Thursday, Scott entered into a plea agreement in which he pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges of reckless conduct, obstruction of a police officer, simple assault and possession of a concealed weapon without a permit, according to court records.

The judicial circuit’s chief judge, David Sweat, signed off on the agreement, which dismissed the aggravated assault charge. He sentenced Scott to 12 months in confinement, with credit given for time already served, plus 36 months of probation.

Scott was released from custody after the sentencing hearing.

Follow Criminal Justice reporter Joe Johnson at www.facebook.com/JoeJohnsonABH or www.twitter.com/JoeJohnsonABH.

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