GBI: Suspect was swinging knife at officers before being shot

Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 11:32 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2021 at 4:40 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A suspect was killed in an officer-involved shooting Tuesday night in Savannah.

According to the Savannah Police Department (SPD), it happened late Tuesday night in the 1900 block of Vassar Street. The investigation was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).

A news release from the GBI states that Savannah officers initiated a traffic stop on a stolen 2013 silver BMW X1 based on a report from the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office. South Carolina authorities were investigating an incident where a 60-year-old Rose Hill woman had her car and credit cards stolen on Dec. 18. According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, the woman remains in a Savannah hospital as of Dec. 22 recovering from head injuries that could have been caused by an assault.

Police believed that 45-year-old Shawn Martin, of Bluffton, had the car. According to the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office, Martin was identified in video footage from stores after activity was detected on one of the woman’s missing credit cards.

According to the GBI, officers did not find Martin in the car during the traffic stop with Savannah Police; however, the driver told officers that Martin was at the driver’s mother’s home.

Officers then went to that home and received permission from the homeowner to search for Martin, according to the GBI. While searching the home, an officer opened a closet door and Martin came out swinging a knife.

The GBI states that officers gave verbal commands to drop the knife, but Martin did not comply. Two officers, a corporal and a supervisor, fired and hit Martin. First aid was administered at the scene and Martin was taken to a Savannah hospital where he was pronounced dead.

No officers were injured in the incident.

The GBI said a knife was recovered from the scene.

The GBI will conduct an independent investigation. Once complete, the casefile will be given to the Eastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.

While SPD leaders can’t give any details about what happened while the GBI is investigating, Savannah Police Chief Roy Minter did talk about the extensive training officers get multiple times a year to prepare for potentially life-threatening situations.

“Every year officers have to go through state mandated training, and department mandated training. That training includes annual qualifications with your firearms, annual de-escalation training and annual use of force training. And that training includes annually going over the departments use of force policy,” Chief Minter said.

Chief Minter said per department protocol, both officers involved are on administrative leave.

This is the 97th officer-involved shooting the GBI has been requested to investigate in 2021. This is the second time that the GBI has been called in to investigate an officer-involved shooting in Savannah.

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