National News

District Attorney finds Henry County officer justified in fatal Hampton shooting following review

Posted July 31

— The Henry County police officer who fatally shot a man outside a downtown Hampton dentist's office in December was justified in his use of lethal force, the Henry County District Attorney's Office found.

The DA's Office announced its decision Friday morning after five months of review. The Dec. 13 fatal shooting was initially investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which turned its findings over to the District Attorney on Feb. 20.

Hampton and Henry County police were called to Allred Family Dental at 26 East Main St. the morning of Dec. 13 to a reported domestic disturbance. Earl Labon Eubanks Jr., a former Marine, had confronted his ex-wife at the dentist's office where she worked.

According to the Henry County Police Department, responding officers saw Eubanks beating his ex-wife in a back alley when they arrived on the scene. After police separated the two, the woman ran inside the office building.

What followed was a lengthy standoff with police, who attempted to negotiate with Eubanks to put down his handgun.

"Eubanks, 32, was shot by an officer after he refused to put the gun down and comply with officers' commands," the DA's Office stated in a press release announcing the decision. "Police used a Taser on Eubanks prior to a firearm, and he still refused to drop his gun and walked towards officers with the gun. He died from a single gunshot wound. The District Attorney's review determined the police shooting was justified."

The GBI identified the officer who fired the fatal shot as Justin Boggs, a 10-year veteran uniform officer with the HCPD. He was placed on paid administrative leave pending the GBI's investigation.

The decision comes with the announcement of District Attorney Darius Pattillo's new review process for officer-involved deaths. Pattillo has instituted a review panel, comprised of the district attorney, Chief Assistant District Attorney Cheveda McCamy, Chief Investigator Russell Moore and Investigator Bernard Monti, who is a Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council certified firearms instructor and use of force expert.

According to the DA's Office, "the panel reviews all evidence in shootings and use of force deaths, including witness statements, videos, photographs, autopsy reports and police reports. It then conducts interviews and determines whether the use of force was justified based on police policies and state law."

"We want to ensure each incident is investigated thoroughly and with the same rigorous review process," Pattillo said in a statement. "We inherited several cases to review when I took office, and we began to research the best policies and procedures to handle these type of serious issues. We have created this panel to ensure the same level of integrity and professionalism is brought to these types of cases."

Previously, officer-involved fatal incidents have been reviewed by special called grand juries in Henry County, under a civil review process that allowed those juries to make findings of fact.

The newly instituted panel also reviewed two other officer-involved deaths in 2016, finding no wrongdoing for police officers in either incident.

"Each of these cases involve tragic endings, but our reviews determined the officers followed their training, acted within their agencies' policies and procedures, and there was no criminal wrongdoing," Pattillo said.

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