Thomasville, GA – Bodycam footage of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Herbert Gilbert has been released, just days after a grand jury ruled that the agent who shot him was justified in doing so (video below).
The incident occurred on Aug. 15. 2017, while Thomas County drug agents were attempting to serve a search warrant at Gilbert’s residence, WALB reported.
According to the Thomasville Times-Enterprise, local police had notified drug squad commander Louis Schofill that they had received several complaints regarding drug activity at Gilbert’s address.
Bodycam footage showed the officers as they approached the home, and announced that they had a warrant. The agents immediately entered the residence.
As the search got underway, officers discovered that Gilbert was outside the home, attempting to leave in an SUV.
Agent Schofill positioned his black police pickup truck to block Gilbert’s escape route, but the man suddenly accelerated, and slammed into the patrol unit head-on.
Gilbert then used the SUV to push past the pickup, and was momentarily able to free himself from the blockade.
But the patrol unit continued to keep contact with the rear portion of Gilbert’s SUV, and prevented the suspect from being able to regain full control of his own vehicle.
The persistent officer was able to push the suspect’s vehicle off of the roadway, as their tires squealed down the block.
Gilbert then turned the SUV around in a yard, and came to rest perpendicular to the black patrol pickup.
Officers quickly converged on the man with their weapons drawn, and ordered him out of the vehicle.
According to court documents, Thomas County Drug Agent Josh Smith was positioned between Gilbert’s vehicle and the black patrol pickup, WALB reported.
When Gilbert accelerated towards him, Agent Smith fired seven rounds into the SUV’s windshield, and an eighth round into the passenger side window of the moving vehicle.
Gilbert then crashed into the front driver’s quarter of the black patrol pickup, where the SUV finally stopped, bodycam footage showed.
"Under the facts of the case, when he rammed into the police car, that gave them the basis to arrest him, it just got to where he was trying to get out and put an officer in danger and the officer had to shoot to protect himself or other," District Attorney Brad Shealy said, according to WALB.
Immediately after the shooting, agents ordered Gilbert to show his hands, and to get onto the ground, bodycam footage showed.
Screaming and wailing could be heard in the background, as angry neighbors began to converge on the scene.
An autopsy later concluded that Gilbert sustained nine gunshot wounds, WALB reported.
He was also found to have marijuana and $883 cash in his pockets, and had a set of scales inside the SUV.
On May 10, a Thomas County grand jury concluded that the shooting was justified, The Daily Item reported.
"While the death of Mr. Gilbert is tragic, we find that it was justified under the law," grand jurors stated in their presentment. "Accordingly, we recommend that no further action be taken in this matter."
Shealy said that Gilbert’s family could still opt to pursue a civil suit.
Marches, protests and vigils were held in the wake of the officer-involved shooting, and drew members of the Black Panthers and Black Lives Matter to the small town, the Thomasville Times-Enterprise reported.
There were no protests or marches held following the grand jury’s decision, The Daily Item reported.
You can watch bodycam footage of the shooting below. WARNING - Graphic Content: