Brunswick, GA — Caroline Small was at a low point in her life. She suffered from PTSD, Dissociative Disorder, and was struggling with drugs and alcohol. These things should have never been a death sentence, but thanks to two Georgia cops, they were.
An eye-opening investigation by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News was published earlier this month that shines a much-needed light on this case. The report illustrates the tragic events leading up to the killing of Caroline Small and the subsequent special privilege granted to the officers who killed her which would allow them to get off scot-free — and keep their jobs.
On June 18, 2010, Small was sitting in a mall parking lot in her car when a citizen allegedly saw her “doing drugs,” so they called police. When police showed up, Small, who was in an obvious diminished mental state, drove off. A police chase ensued.
During the chase, which never exceeded 35 mph, Small’s tires were blown out by spike strips. She was then pinned by two cruisers and a utility pole and riding only on her rims. Her car was effectively rendered immobilized.
However, Small, who was in the midst of a mental crisis, continued pressing the accelerator, even though the car was not able to move but a few inches.
At this point, Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jonathan Malone is seen running behind Small’s car in an attempt to remove her from the vehicle. But Malone quickly runs away after he notices Glynn County officers Sgt. Robert C. Sasser and Officer Michael T. Simpson with their service weapons pointed direct at him, with Small’s head being the primary target.
Malone pleaded with the officers to let him get Small out of the vehicle.
“Let me get out there and get her out,” Malone calls out to the other officers, according to the GBI audio transcripts.
“Hold on, hold on,” one unknown officer responds.
“If she moves the car, I’m going to shoot her,” Simpson says.
Seconds later, Sasser and Simpson unleash a volley of gunfire into the face of Caroline Small.
After the shooting, Sasser and Simpson can be heard discussing their kill.
“Where did you hit her?” Simpson asks, according to a GBI transcript.
“I hit her right in the face,” Sasser says.
“I watched the bridge of her nose…I pulled the trigger and I watched it hit her at the same time I think I fired,” Simpson says.
When an EMT showed up to the scene, Simpson waved him off, trusting that his stellar marksmanship had done the job, and she was dead. However, Small was holding on for dear life, and those crucial moments could have been the difference between life and death. Small would never regain consciousness, but she didn’t succumb to her injuries until a week after the shooting.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News investigation of the case found that:
• Glynn County police officers interfered with the GBI’s investigation from the start, seeking to protect the officers.
• The department tampered with the crime scene and created misleading evidence that was shown to the grand jury.
• The local district attorney shared the state’s evidence with the officers nearly two months before the grand jury convened and cut an unusual deal with them just before it met.
With the special treatment given to the Glynn County police by the other law enforcement agency “investigating” them, they were able to successfully convince a grand jury that they “feared for their lives.” Neither of the officers faced any discipline and both were returned to full duty.
One of the members of that grand jury, Byron Bennett, has come out publicly stating that he regrets his decision.
“I felt like I let that lady down,” he said. “I felt like they killed that lady. They didn’t give her a chance.”
One of the GBI investigators who supervised the criminal investigation into the shooting told the AJC that the shooting was unjust.
“This is the worst one I’ve ever investigated,” said Mike McDaniel, a retired GBI agent. “I don’t think it’s a good shoot. I don’t think it’s justified.”
Even the lead investigator says that this was unjustified, yet these two cops are still out on the street, “protecting and serving.” So turn the brutal, rusty, and bloody cogs of the American justice system.