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Officers on leave after shooting

Man, 61, killed when civil matter turned violent

Officers on leave after shooting

Officers on leave after shooting

Law enforcement officers from various...

Two Statesboro officers — a police officer and a code enforcement officer — are on administrative leave after a shooting incident Monday on Rackley Street that left a man dead.

George Pryor, 61, was killed during a civil matter that turned violent around 9:30 a.m. Monday when shots were fired, said Statesboro Public Safety Director Wendell Turner.

Witnesses said the disagreement was over a disabled van city officials had been trying to get Pryor to move for some time.

The officers involved in the shooting incident remain unidentified, pending an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

“Per department policies, the (police) officer and the code enforcement officer have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the results of the GBI investigation,” Turner said. “This is a common practice within the law enforcement profession after an officer-involved shooting.”

Authorities will not confirm whether Pryor fired shots, citing the ongoing investigation, but Pryor did have a gun in his possession when he died, he said. A witness said Pryor fired shots first, and officers responded by shooting back.

A complaint from a “citizen on an adjacent property” regarding a city ordinance violation prompted code enforcement officers to ask for a police escort to Pryor’s home, according to Turner. Witnesses to the incident Monday said the complaint involved an older model, inoperable van on the property which sat behind a wooden fence.

After the shooting, a tow truck remained nearby, with the van loaded.

"He has had the van forever,” said Rose Roberts, who witnessed the shooting incident and told the Statesboro Herald Pryor fired first. “They (city officials) have been asking for years for him to move it. He signed some papers, went back into the house, and then all of a sudden everything happened," Roberts said, adding that Pryor came back outside and began firing. "The van had a lot of sentimental value for him. He wanted to get it fixed."

She said she ducked underneath a nearby home when the shots rang out.

Bulloch County Coroner Jake Futch said Tuesday autopsy reports from the GBI Crime Lab in Savannah revealed Pryor died of multiple gunshot wounds as a result of “an altercation with police.” The death is ruled a homicide.

The term homicide refers to the killing of a human; it is defined by as “the killing of one human being by another.”

It differs from murder, which is defined by the source as “the killing of another human being … committed with malice aforethought, characterized by deliberation or premeditation or occurring during the commission of another serious crime…”

Neither of the officers involved was injured by gunfire, but one officer did suffer a minor injury during the incident, Turner said.

“Multiple agencies responded to the scene after shots were fired including Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office, Georgia State Patrol, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation,” he said. “Per department policy, when there is a shooting involving a Statesboro police officer the investigation is turned over to an outside agency. The incident is currently under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.”

GBI Statesboro Special Agent-in-Charge Catherine Sapp said Tuesday there would be no further information released at this time.

Neither will further information be released by the City of Statesboro while the GBI Investigation is still active, Turner said.

"The Statesboro Police Department would like to extend its deepest condolences to the family of George Pryor,” said Statesboro police spokesman Advanced Patrol Officer Justin Samples. “ This was an unfortunate incident, and we extend our condolences to them."

Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.

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