By Joe Johnson
Athens-Clarke County police officers Thursday morning fatally shot an auto theft suspect who they reportedly believed might be armed.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is investigating the shooting, identified the deceased suspect as 37-year-old Timothy Daniel Statham.
In a Thursday evening media release, the GBI did not indicate where Statham was from.
However, they said he was driving a pickup truck that had been reported stolen in Jackson County, and that he had felony arrest warrants on file in Jackson and Barrow counties.
ACCPD officers attempted to stop the truck at about 9:17 a.m., and they followed it until Statham drove the vehicle into a ditch in the area of Newton Bridge Road and Fritz Mar Lane, the GBI said.
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 the 40mm sponge rounds that police said were fired at Statham were ineffective.
"At one point, Statham advanced toward some of the officers," the GBI said in the 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 was to be transported to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy.
The GBI will conduct an independent investigation, and once it's completed, the findings will be turned over to the Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney's Office for review.
The incident is 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.