Community members ask for transparency, accountability after man killed by Savannah officer

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 5:12 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2022 at 5:20 PM EDT

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A Savannah family and community members are calling for accountability just five days after a 31-year-old man was shot and killed by a Savannah Police officer.

According to state investigators, it all started Friday just before noon when officers on patrol near Gwinnett Street saw a man walking in the middle of the road.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation says Savannah Police officers went up to Saudi Lee. They say Lee showed officers his wallet, saying he had a weapons permit.

The GBI statement goes on to say Lee pulled up his shirt and pulled a weapon from a holster. That was when they started chasing him and an officer shot Lee.

Records obtained by WTOC from the GBI name the Savannah Police officer involved as Ernest Ferguson. At this time. Officer Ferguson has not been criminally charged. He is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the GBI investigation. Savannah Police are also conducting a separate internal investigation.

Tuesday community members and advocates for the family of Saudi Lee came together to call for transparency and accountability as the GBI investigation continues.

The Racial Justice Network asked for a few things today for the officer who shot and killed Saudi Lee to be fired, for Police Chief Roy Minter to resign and for better training for officers.

“We want it to stop. I don’t know if it’s the training, or the fear of a Black man, but it seems like they shoot and ask questions later,” Elder James Johnson said.

The president of the Savannah chapter of the Racial Justice Network says he also wants the feds to come in and conduct their own investigation of last Friday’s officer involved shooting.

“Today we demand answers. We want transparency, we want accountability,” Rev. Alan Mainor, Racial Justice Network said.

Several Carver Village community members also voiced their concern about the officer who they say was involved in last Friday’s deadly shooting, telling us there had been several other issues involving interactions with the officer in the past.

They say they brought these issues up to police at a neighborhood meeting before the shooting. While we’re currently looking into those claims, Savannah Police say they are not aware of any complaints brought up at Carver Village community meetings about any of their officers.

“Is it a death sentence for a Black man to own a gun? Is it? Is it ok for you to shoot us every time, or anytime you feel like it? Do we have a target on our backs?” Rev. Alan Mainor said.

“Give us the same rights as you give Habersham Woods, as you give Ardsley Park treat us the same as you treat all citizens.”

Racial Justice Network leaders say they plan on protesting in front of police headquarters in the coming days.

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