Georgia Inmate Shot Dead by Officer After Grabbing Pepper Spray During Hospital Treatment

A Georgia inmate was fatally shot by a corrections officer after overpowering another officer and using pepper spray during a hospital visit. The incident highlights the risks faced by officers and the need for thorough investigations into use-of-force incidents.

Mazhar Abbas
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Georgia Inmate Shot Dead by Officer After Grabbing Pepper Spray During Hospital Treatment

Georgia Inmate Shot Dead by Officer After Grabbing Pepper Spray During Hospital Treatment

A 31-year-old Georgia inmate was fatally shot by an officer at the Washington County Regional Medical Center on April 23, 2024. Jacob Henson, who was serving an eight-year sentence for aggravated assault at the Washington State Prison, had been taken to the hospital for treatment of a stab wound sustained during an earlier prison fight.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), while receiving medical care, Henson became noncompliant and a struggle ensued with the two corrections officers guarding him. During the altercation, Henson overpowered one officer and grabbed the officer's pepper spray canister. Henson then used the pepper spray to incapacitate the first officer before charging at the second officer while still dispensing the spray. The second officer responded by firing her gun, striking and killing Henson.

The officer who was sprayed with pepper spray was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Both officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.

Prior to his incarceration, Henson had a criminal history that included a three-week crime spree in 2018 involving thefts of various vehicles across Georgia. He pleaded guilty to 25 criminal counts and was sentenced to 20 years, with 8 years to be served in prison followed by 12 years of probation.

Why this matters: The incident highlights the ongoing challenges and risks faced by corrections officers in managing and transporting inmates, particularly those with violent histories. It also underscores the need for thorough investigations and reviews of use-of-force incidents involving law enforcement personnel.

The GBI is investigating the use of deadly force by the corrections officer, while the Georgia Department of Corrections is conducting a separate investigation into the earlier stabbing incident at the prison. Washington County Sheriff Joel Cochran described the situation as "tragic" and stated that the officers were put in a difficult position, having to make a split-second decision. "This is the last thing that any law enforcement officer wants to do," Cochran said. "It's shocking for our community because this doesn't happen here very often."

Key Takeaways

  • 31-year-old Georgia inmate fatally shot by officer at hospital
  • Inmate overpowered officer, used pepper spray before being shot
  • Inmate had violent criminal history, serving 8-year sentence
  • Incident highlights risks for officers managing violent inmates
  • Investigations ongoing into use of force and earlier prison incident