By Joe Johnson
The police shooting death of a man in Athens on Thursday was the culmination of a domestic incident a week earlier in Jackson County.
According to a Jackson County Sheriff’s incident report, a deputy responded on Feb. 10 to a home on Abby Lane in Nicholson where a woman said that her estranged husband, 37-year-old Timothy Statham, had taken her pickup truck without permission four days earlier.
Though estranged, the woman said that she and Statham still lived together.
The woman reportedly told the deputy that she sent multiple text messages to Statham asking him to return the truck, which he agreed to do, but had yet to return.
The last time the woman had contact with Statham was the afternoon of Feb. 8, and when a Jackson County dispatcher tried to reach the man, the call went straight to voicemail, according to the report.
A Georgia Crime Information Center query of Statham indicated that there was a warrant for his arrest in Winder and his driver’s license was suspended, according to the report, which noted the woman said that Statham suffered from depression and had a past history of substance abuse.
The woman did not wish to press charges on Statham for taking the truck, but asked that deputies check on his welfare.
A lookout was subsequently issued by the sheriff’s office concerning the truck being taken without permission and the requested welfare check on Statham.
Soon after the deputy went to the woman’s home, the report notes that she spoke to another deputy by phone to report that she had located Statham and the truck on Oak Grove Road in Athens, where he sped off after the woman asked Statham to exit the vehicle and give her the keys.
The woman told deputies that she wished to prosecute Statham, and her pickup was subsequently reported as stolen, according to the sheriff’s report.
Eight days later, on Thursday morning, Athens-Clarke County officers spotted the truck and while attempting to stop it they followed until Statham drove the vehicle into a ditch in the area of Newton Bridge Road and Fritz Mar Lane, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
After Statham fled into some nearby woods, officers "spent several moments attempting to get Statham to surrender," according to the GBI. "Statham refused to surrender and maintained a threatening position to the officers,” while keeping his hands in his pockets and telling the officers "he had more ammunition than they did."
Officers tried to use a less-lethal option to subdue Statham, but a 40mm sponge round that police said an officer fired at Statham was ineffective.
"At one point, Statham advanced toward some of the officers," the GBI said in a media release. "During that moment, three officers fired their handguns at Statham, striking him. Statham died at the scene."
No firearm was recovered from the scene, according to the GBI.
Statham, who police said was living in Winterville prior to being killed, was transported to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy.
The GBI is conducting an independent investigation, and once it's completed, the findings will be turned over to the Western Circuit District Attorney's Office for review.
Athens-Clarke County police on Friday identified the officers who shot Statham as Sgt. Tim Johnson, Officer First Class Dustin Tilley, and Officer Jerold Rogers.
They have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is being investigated internally by ACCPD and the GBI.
The incident was the ninth officer-involved shooting the GBI has been requested to investigate in 2021.
It was the first such shooting by Athens-Clarke County police since 2019, when there were an unprecedented six officer-involved shootings, all but one of which were fatal.