COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — The Russell County District Attorney released deputy body camera footage today of a May officer-involved shooting that took the life of 47-year-old Daniel Mooneyham.
A Grand Jury has cleared two Russell County Sheriff’s deputies of any wrongdoing in the shooting.
Sheriff Heath Taylor and District Attorney Rick Chancey say Daniel Mooneyham was a deeply troubled man, under the influence of meth and cocaine — according to the autopsy — and battling mental illness when two deputies had to make a split decision to use deadly force after a Taser and chemical spray did not subdue the armed Mooneyham inside his pickup truck.
Earlier on May 31, Mooneyham had fired a shot at a Russell County Water Authority employee cutting off water over the non-payment of a $43 bill.
Armed with two weapons and ammunition Mooneyham went to the Water Authority office. When deputies arrived in the Water Authority, Mooneyham was there and had attempted to go inside, but pulled back.
Taylor says by the grace of God, a mass shooting was averted.
“God was with us that day,” Taylor said. “He was with those people at the Water Authority, and he did not allow that person to go in and carry out what we believe to be a potential mass shooting.”
Mooneyham left the Water Authority. Deputies, after talking to employees, decided to follow him. Mooneyham was pulled over at U.S. 431 and Ware Road, not far from his home.
What appeared to be a traffic stop changed quickly.
Mooneyham had a sticker on the door of his truck. It read “IDK; IDC; IDGAF.”
“We know this to be I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t give a explicit word,” Taylor said. “… We think that’s significant, that that’s his attitude. And that is demeanor.”
Here’s how quickly it happened.
“At what point were these officers justified in using deadly force? Now? Probably not because he hasn’t done anything to them,” Chancey said. “They are a little bit suspicious of him. Because they know just a few minutes ago this is a guy who was accused of having a gun and shooting at somebody. But that doesn’t mean they can just stop and shoot him. They still have to do their investigation.”
The video shows the deputies used a Tasar and chemical spray as Mooneyham was coming back at them armed.
“Chemical spray, then the Taser,” Taylor said. “… There’s the spray, then the Taser and he comes out with the weapon.”
Taylor says it happens just that quickly.
“This is a prime example of how things go in a split second from normal, not deadly force to deadly force,” Taylor said.
Mooneyham had pulled the trigger when he engaged with deputies, but the gun did not discharge.
Chancey said the Grand Jury watched this video and determined the deputies were justified to use deadly force.
“The Grand Jury has reviewed all of the evidence in this case, including body cam footage, dash cam footage, and witness statements, and has determined that the deputies acted within the law. And so as far as our agency, the Russell County District Attorney’s Office is concerned, this case is closed.”
An issue in this case? Mooneyham was legally carrying the two firearms. He had previously been denied a carry permit by Taylor’s office. But a change in Alabama law allows citizens to open carry. As Taylor said, until he started shooting at people, it was perfectly legal.