SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A Chatham County grand jury has unanimously decided that the officers’ actions were justified the night Savannah Police Sergeant Kelvin Ansari and another officer were shot back in May.
Responding officers shot and killed Edward Fuller III after he fatally wounded Sergeant Ansari, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called in to review the circumstances of the officer-involved shooting.
Chatham County District Attorney Meg Heap says deliberation didn't take long for the panel of 16 to determine the use of deadly force against the man who shot Sgt. Ansari and Officer Thomas was justified.
Jurors saw body camera video of the initial call that brought officers to the area near Bull Street and East 39th, the night of May 11.
The first 911 caller said a fight had broken out in the parking lot of a nearby business, but responding officers, including Sgt. Ansari and Ofc. Thomas found out it was an armed robbery.
While talking with the victim, another 911 call came in that the suspect was sitting in a car parked near the scene.
“They’re sitting there for 30 minutes, they’re taking information, they’re speaking to the victim; probably pretty normal in their world,” Heap said. “They receive another 911 call, 911 dispatches to the police saying, 'Hey, we just received information that the armed robber is still there and he’s in the back of that car.”
It was when officers went to look at the vehicle that Edward Fuller II jumped out of the vehicle and shot Ansari and Thomas.
“So, the officers walk up there. No one has drawn their weapons. they’re just checking it out, and Mr. Fuller jumps out of the car and just shoots, and murders Sgt. Ansari and shoots another officer,” Heap said. “Within 14 minutes, they find Mr. Fuller in a shed, coming out with a gun pointed at the officers, and the grand jury heard all of this evidence, and found that the officers actions were justified.”
Heap says the presentation of evidence and testimony was emotional for all involved, including jurors and officers who were there that night.
"A lot...they were breaking down on the stand, and it was really hard. They had to re-live something that was very, very hard, and I think the grand jury saw that as well and it affected them,” Heap said.
Heap says when the GBI analyzed the gun Fuller pointed at officers, it was loaded, and was linked back to the murder of Sgt. Ansari. The GBI Crime Lab also found cocaine and alcohol in Fuller’s system. When investigators searched the car Fuller jumped out of, they found heroin, hydrocodone, and meth.
Heap says her office is very careful in the presentation of cases like this to a grand jury, making sure all the information is accurate, and that they are transparent and objective.
WTOC did get an update on Officer Thomas. He's still working out of the Central Precinct and was on light duty while recovering from his injury.
A police spokesperson says Thomas returned to patrol in June.