Prosecutors, SBI report validate officer shooting

Sep. 24, 2013 @ 09:11 PM

Prosecutors have accepted and agreed with a State Bureau of Investigation report validating Vance County sheriff’s deputy Tony Wallace shooting at a suspect June 24.

Wallace, a sergeant, fired several rounds at John Thomas Mann in a chase ending near the boat launch area at the end of Flemingtontown Road. Mann, with attorney David Waters, appeared in Superior Court Tuesday in front of Judge Robert Hobgood.

District Attorney Sam Currin said the actions by Wallace showed good judgement that was not in violation of any law.

“I concluded that it was a clean shot,” Currin said. “No laws were violated by the officer.”

Allison Capps, the assistant district attorney prosecuting for the state, gave Hobgood the SBI report for what she said should be an in-camera review. Hobgood agreed to select portions of the report to be added to other matters of discovery in the defense of Mann’s case.

“We have reviewed the report and it is our opinion that the shooting was justified,” Capps said. “It was not an excessive use of force.”

Mann faces a total of 11 charges, including six felonies. Charges include assaulting an officer with a deadly weapon, larceny of a vehicle, fleeing to allude, fraud, multiple larcenies, breaking and entering, conspiracy, reckless driving, driving with a revoked license and possession of stolen goods.

Hobgood ordered all charges to be reviewed during a hearing the week of Oct. 15.

According to a report of the incident, Vance deputies were serving a warrant on Mann charging he stole a 1999 Ford Ranger on June 10. Deputies say the chase began when Mann sped from them in a 2007 Dodge Caliber.

A pursuit from Brookstone Road ended near the boat launch, and Mann drove erratically in the parking area. As he began to exit toward a wooded area, Wallace fired several times at Mann as he drove. Mann was hit twice in the shoulder area, crashed and was taken into custody.

Capps and Currin explained because SBI reports typically include personal material, including personnel files or other background information, the judge is tasked with handing over only the information that is relevant to Mann’s case.

“Like all SBI reports, it is confidential,” Capps said.

“Judges do that from time to time,” Currin said. “The judge has to review for what is relevant information and what is not.”

Sheriff Peter White said the conclusion speaks loudly for the professionalism his department displayed as a team on June 24.

“That was our opinion all along. It was my opinion,” White said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. My main concern is that what we did was justified. We did everything the way we were supposed to have done it.”

White confirmed that there were personnel and training records handed over to the SBI during their investigation.

“We had to turn over certain records, his file, training and so forth,” White said. “I haven’t seen the report, so I can’t tell you what is in it.”

Waters received agreement from Hobgood on Tuesday to fund up to $1,500 for a private investigator to work on forensic evidence for Mann’s defense.

Mann, of 141 Spain Road, Middleburg, where he lives with his mother, continues to be held in jail on $46,000 bond. He has an additional $50,000 bond set from prior cases.

White returned Wallace to his regular duties last month as the wait for the SBI probe lengthened.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.