“I hit her right in the face. … Right on the bridge of the nose,” the senior officer said. “She’s dead. I shot her in the head. Her head exploded.”
Article posted on October 2, 2011
BRUNSWICK — Seconds after two veteran Glynn County police officers fired eight bullets into the car of an unarmed woman they had been following in an erratic, low-speed pursuit, neither officer checked to see whether she was alive.
Instead, they talked about their marksmanship in what would become the fatal shooting of Caroline McGehee Small, a 35-year-old mother who had struggled with drugs much of her life.
“I hit her right in the face. … Right on the bridge of the nose,” the senior officer said.
“I think I fired twice,” the other officer replied.
Later, that same officer told a former firefighter, “She’s dead. I shot her in the head. Her head exploded.”
Small was still alive, but barely. She died a week later when taken off life-support.
Those details, and more about the controversial June 2010 shooting of the unarmed woman, are among the evidence contained in a 540-page case file the Georgia Bureau of Investigation released to the Times-Union in response to an open records request.
Sgt. Corey Sasser and Officer Todd Simpson were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a county grand jury in a split decision. Both also were cleared by an internal Glynn County Police investigation.
County Police Chief Matt Doering asked the GBI to investigate the shooting by Sasser and Simpson - a common practice in officer-involved shootings in Georgia.
Then, as now, Doering maintains Sasser and Simpson acted reasonably and within department policy in the situation, which they perceived as life-threatening and endangering public safety. Officers considered Small’s car a deadly weapon.
Police and state patrol car cameras recorded the chase, shooting and immediate aftermath. Sasser and Simpson were side-by-side off-camera, so none of the videos show either pulling the trigger.