Updated: Jan 8
By Joe Johnson
Athens-Clarke County police officers on Friday fatally shot a felony probationer during a stolen car investigation.
The incident occurred at about 11:45 p.m., when officers located a stolen car in the driveway of a home in the 5000 block of Smokey Road, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the officer-involved shooting.
When officers tried to find someone at the residence to investigate further, two of them reportedly encountered two men in a shed in the yard.
One of the men, identified by the GBI as Clinton Eli Burkhalter, 42, of Athens fired a gun several times into the shed's ceiling, and as he exited, the gun reportedly was pointed towards the officers, who then shot the man.
Burkhalter fell to the ground, but still had the gun in his hand, according to the GBI, so the officers maintained cover until additional officers could come to provide backup.
When EMS personnel arrived they pronounced Burkhalter dead. The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office is to perform an autopsy.
According to Clarke County Superior Court records, Burkhalter was on felony probation for failure to register as a convicted sex offender.
He was placed on probation in Evans County for a 1999 statutory rape conviction, records show, and in 2019 was ordered by a Superior Court judge in Athens to serve 12 years on probation for failing to register as a sex offender with the Clarke County Sheriff's Office.
It could not be confirmed that it's the same person, but a Clinton Eli Burkhalter Jr. has a case of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon pending in Coryell County, TX., according to the state's 52nd Judicial District Court docket.
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department referred all questions about the officers' deadly encounter with Burkhalter to the GBI, only releasing the following statement:
“As part of its standard operating procedure, ACCPD contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and requested a criminal investigation. ACCPD’s Office of Professional Standards has opened an administrative investigation, and the officers have been placed on administrative leave pending initial review of the incident "
ACCPD spokesman Lt. Shaun Barnett said the involved officers' names were not being released "at this time."
The GBI said after agents complete their investigation, the case file will be given to the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for review.