Suspect Dies After Ga. Police Shoot Him with Bean Bag Round

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ga. - A man who telephoned a hot line to say he had a gun and was dreaming of killing children died after police shot him with supposedly non-lethal bean bag projectiles, officials said.

Lester Zachary died Wednesday at a hospital, two days after he was shot at his home with two bean bag bullets.

Zachary, 45, died of internal bleeding caused by a bullet hitting his spleen area, Muscogee County Coroner James Dunnavant said Thursday.

A bean bag bullet is intended by police as a non-lethal alternative to shooting someone with a gun, Police Chief Ricky Boren said.

The silver dollar-sized bean bag is compressed in a shell casing and loaded into a specialized 12-gauge shotgun. It is designed to create an impact strong enough to make suspects fall to the ground so officers can handcuff them.

In this case, the coroner said, the bullet caused internal bleeding. Zachary could not be operated on because he was on blood thinners from a heart condition, Dunnavant said.

Police went to Zachary's house early Monday after Zachary called the Veterans Affairs Hospital hot line. He told a nurse he was dreaming of killing children and himself and that he had a gun. The nurse called police, Boren said.

When officers went to the home, Zachary told them he would kill them too, authorities said. Boren said Zachary refused to talk with them, but he eventually came out to his porch. That's when a supervisor, who was at the scene, authorized an officer to shoot Zachary in the chest using a bean bag gun from about 25 feet away.

Boren said it is standard procedure to shoot the suspect in the chest if the officer is farther than 25 feet. Dunnavant confirmed Thursday that the officer was about that far away when Zachary was shot.

Police said they knew of no evidence Zachary had any history of mental illness.

Boren said the department will continue to use the guns until all investigations are completed. The department has used the guns nine times since 2001, and until now no one had died as a result, he said.

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