George Ryan Walters, an unpaid reserve deputy with the Jones County Sheriff’s Department, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting death of James Corey Donald at The Rock Church in Laurel, Mississippi. Initial statements from Sheriff Joe Berlin suggested that Donald may have reached for Walters’ gun, but evidence presented during a recent bond hearing contradicted this claim.
Alleged Actions of Walters
During the bond hearing, Mississippi Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Zachary Summers testified that Walters punched Donald in the face and chased him into a parking lot before shooting him and kicking him in the head.
The church security video presented as evidence showed no evidence of Donald initiating a physical fight or reaching for Walters’ gun. Autopsy results revealed that Donald died from a gunshot wound to the back and displayed signs of internal bleeding around the brain and abrasions to the head.
Greg Slay, an attorney representing Donald’s family, raised questions about Walters’ ability to carry a gun as a reserve deputy, considering his role as a member of the church security team. Walters’ lawyer did not respond to a request for comment, and Walters passed out during the bond hearing, requiring medical attention.
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Prosecution of the Case
Jones County Circuit Judge Dal Williamson has assigned Simpson County District Attorney Chris Hennis to prosecute the case once the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation completes its inquiry, as reported by US News. The case has raised concerns about the legal protections provided by a 2016 Mississippi law to individuals designated by churches for firearms training and security roles, such as Walters.
As the investigation and legal proceedings continue, the community awaits further updates on the case and the outcome of the charges against Walters, who remains an unpaid reserve deputy with the Jones County Sheriff’s Department.
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