No criminal charges sought against Columbus police officer who -, GA News Weather & Sports

No criminal charges sought against Columbus police officer who shot, killed innocent man

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A Muscogee County grand jury came to a decision Tuesday afternoon in a 2011 case where two men were gunned down by a Columbus police officer after a bank robbery.

Officer Vincent Lockhart Jr. testified along with several witnesses about the tragic day he fired into a black, two door pick-up truck killing two men.

After a nearly five hours of testimony, the grand jury exonerated Officer Vincent Lockhart Jr. of any criminal wrongdoing.

More than a year after the slaying, District Attorney Julia Slater announced one of the two men inside the truck, Fort Benning fire inspector Tony Carr, 35, was innocent.

The other person inside the truck, 31-year-old Alrahiem Tolbert, allegedly robbed a MEA Federal Credit Union Bank, then carjacked Carr hoping to use his Fort Benning issued work truck as a getaway car.

We spoke with Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren shortly after the shooting. Boren stated a masked man was seen running out of the MEA Federal Credit Union branch on Macon Road around 11:30 a.m. by a Columbus police officer. 

The officer, Vincent Lockhart Jr., followed the suspect as he jumped into Carr's truck.  Chief Boren said the driver then put the truck in reverse and attempted to run Lockhart Jr. over.

In an attempt to stop the truck Lockhart pulled out his gun and fired several shots into the vehicle. The suspect drove the truck down Briarwood Avenue and eventually crashed near Gardenia Street, just a block from the bank.

"He was killed by what I feel to be a criminal. He followed no procedure and didn't wait for backup. He fired off multiple shots in a residential neighborhood endangering an innocent person and killing him…my brother," Tony Carr's brother Michael Carr said.

Lockhart's name was never on an indictment, stated DA Slater. Slater said the grand jury conducted a "civil investigation;" they were asked to submit a recommendation of whether or not the District Attorney's office should seek criminal charges against Lockhart.

"I think certainly nobody would want to be in law enforcement if they thought that if there was an incident that involved deadly force that you would immediately be subjected to criminal charges," Defense attorney John Martin said.

Carr's brother Michael Carr testified earlier in the morning. Upon exiting the hearing with the mother of Tony Carr's child he immediately brought up the amount of time it took the DA's office to first clear his brother's name and have some sort of hearing.

"It's not something that just disappears from memory. I didn't forget he's dead and I haven't forgotten how long it's taken to get to this point right now, nor do I understand how something that spanned one block takes 20 months," Michael Carr said.

We asked Slater why the investigation took so long.

"One thing is the DA's office has to critically review everything that we're given. In this particular case once we did that, there was a concerned citizen that came forward that led us in a new direction in the investigation," Slater said.

Michael Carr said he was on the phone with his brother moments before Tolbert hijacked him; that was the last time they spoke.

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