Authorities said seven Athens police officers fired their weapons during the fatal shooting of a 34-year-old Grovetown man who brandished an airsoft gun Friday evening.
Police identified the man killed as Thomas Wayne Swinford.
Officers encountered Swinford on West Lake Drive just before 6:30 p.m., and he was “believed to be armed with a weapon,” Athens police spokesman Geoffrey Gilland said in a news release Friday.
When asked to drop the gun, the man allegedly charged at police and pointed the weapon in the direction of an officer, prompting several officers at the scene to open fire, Gilland said.
Swinford was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
On Saturday, police identified the officers who fired at Swinford as Officer C.J. Bidinger, Officer First Class William Greenlow, Officer Claude Johnson, Cpl. Alex Leder, Sgt. Jon McIlvaine, Officer Joshua Santos and Officer Roger Williams.
The GBI announced Saturday that the weapon recovered from the scene was an airsoft gun.
Airsoft guns are modeled after firearms but typically shoot nonlethal plastic pellets.
“Swinford disregarded the officers’ commands and charged the officers with the firearm in his hand pointed in the officers’ direction,” a GBI spokeswoman said. “Multiple officers discharged their firearms, striking Swinford.”
It is the 18th officer-involved shooting the GBI has investigated this year.
Gilland said the Athens officers involved have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
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