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Law Enforcement: Georgia Narcs Gun Down Young Pastor

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #600)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues

America's war on drugs claimed another victim last week: Jonathan Ayers, 29, a Georgia pastor shot and killed by undercover narcotics agents in his car at a gas station in Toccoa, Georgia, on the afternoon of September 1. After being shot, Ayers drove off, but crashed less than a block away. He died while being treated at a local hospital. No drugs were found.

According to police, undercover officers from a three-county northeast Georgia drug and prostitution task force saw Ayers with a woman wanted for cocaine sales and followed him to the gas station after he dropped her off. While Pastor Ayers went inside to use the ATM, the officers waited by the pumps in an unmarked black Cadillac Escalade. Once Ayers got back into his car, the officers emerged and identified themselves as police. They ordered Ayers to open his car door, but he instead backed up, striking one officer, and then tried to drive away. Police fired twice, fatally wounding Ayers.

"The target was seen meeting with the deceased and at one point getting out of the car of the deceased. They went down from a local establishment down to the Shell Station," Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley told WNEG TV the next day. The undercover officers "identified themselves as police and Mr. Ayers backed up into one of the agents, and then pulled his vehicle forward in a fast motion toward the other agent... at which time the agent fired two shots into the automobile," he said.

Shirley conceded that Ayers had not intentionally struck the officer, who had ran behind the vehicle just as it reversed, but was driving toward the other officers "in a threatening manner." But video of the incident shows Ayers driving away from the officers as they opened fire.

Shirley also conceded that Ayers was not a target of the investigation, contradicting what police had told WNEG a day earlier. It wasn't the only clarification police had to make. Ayers' relatives told that police first told them he had died in a traffic accident, then that he had been shot, and then that he had been shot by a police officer.

The woman suspect police were following was later arrested and charged with cocaine sales. Her name has not been released.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting. The officers involved remain on administrative duty.

Ayers' family, friends, and parishioners said the pastor, whose wife is four months pregnant with their first child, was more likely behaving as a Good Samaritan for a sinner in need than involved in anything nefarious. They suggested he may have had his car windows up and not heard the undercover officers identify themselves and was attempting to flee from armed men confronting him.

Ayers was buried last Friday after a funeral service at his church drew more than 400 people. Parishioner Roger Shirley (no relation to the sheriff) said he was certain Ayers had already forgiven his killers. "I know I will eventually. But I can't right now," he said.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Waynesworld (not verified)

Two men in strret clothes with guns at a gas station. Who else could it be but the police. Ethics prohibit carjacker's from identifying themselves as police officers so the defense that he was running from thugs is a lark.

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 1:19pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Sure there's a video of him driving away from the cops but clearly it was tampered with since the officer said the Paster drove toward him "in a threatening manner." These are the good guys - they wouldn't lie.

And it was clearly the family being delerious over their loss. They must have only heard what they wanted to. Who would be so cruel as to play off an aggressive shooting as a traffic incident?

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 5:39pm Permalink
Dee420 (not verified)

When a cop get shot and his wife is pregnant, there's a huge vigil and a fund set up, a street or road may get named after them.... I've yet to see even a real apology and acknowledgment from law enforcement officials after an upsetting tragedy like this. How many more fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and children will be lost because the government wants to control us? The unfortunate answer is many many many =*^(

Fri, 09/11/2009 - 9:25pm Permalink
Stunned (not verified)

When will the government learn how stupid undercover work is,here in Meigs County ,Ohio our zero's in an unmarked car jump from the auto at a stop light on main street at noon in plain clothes with mask on and held the driver in front of them at gun point for a 1/4oz of pot is sent the whole town into a panic with people on the streets and in nearby stores thinking they were witnessing a car jacking matter of fact the police were called by no fewer than 3 people stating as much.Now I maybe wrong but if an armed masked person confronts me at a stop light I'm going to assume it is to cause bodily harm or to steal my property and plan on protecting myself at all cost and when I question the officers about this they said that only guilty people would act out at being approached this way,So I guess if the driver had shot and killed 1 of them thinking he was being robbed he would have spent the rest of his life in jail and the price of a 1/4oz would have been 2 lives

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 10:48am Permalink
rita (not verified)

In reply to by Stunned (not verified)

Rest assured that if you are ever attacked by police officers, in your home or on the street, they are indeed intending to do bodily harm and steal your property. And they would just as soon kill you as not, and they will do so with impunity.

Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:37pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

This is what it all comes down to. Because drugs are bad, and people who use them are now bad people. If you give a drug user a ride, be prepared to be shot to death.

Sat, 09/12/2009 - 7:12pm Permalink
Robert Walker (not verified)

Haven't you people read 1984?
Bad is good. Freedom is tyranny. Satan is God. Every thing is double plus good now that we have the Messiah sitting in the office of the President of the United States. Though he may have got there illegally.
If we assume the worst regarding the Pastor, he was only exercising his NATURAL RIGHT to purchase the services offered by a woman of low repute. She was only exercising her NATURAL RIGHT to offer such services.
But let us not assume that was the case. Perhaps the good man was only doing his job of helping a soul in distress. Without prohibition, the good woman would not have been targeted by the thugs in a Cadillac Escalade.
To continue living is the primary goal of life. If one is confronted by someone unknown with a gun, defensive actions should be taken. It just makes sense.
Thank you,
Robert Walker

Sun, 09/13/2009 - 12:00pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Surely the GBI knows by now this could turn into another Rodney King event if Justice is not found for this young man but just in case everyone should meet outside the courthouse when the findings are read!!!!

Sun, 09/13/2009 - 10:54pm Permalink
newageblues (not verified)

So what conceivable right or reason did they have for coming down on this guy like bats out of hell? If they wanted to question him, isn't that supposed to be done at least reasonably politely? This tragedy is still as incomprehensible to me as when I first heard of it.

Mon, 09/14/2009 - 4:51pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

You cops in Georgia I know that you're reading this: Remember 1865 when Sherman burned Georgia and Federal rule was imposed. Clean up your act or they'll do it again...

Mon, 09/14/2009 - 7:23pm Permalink
newageblues (not verified)

(as described in 4th comment) making the town think masked men were conducting a carjacking. Bet they had a lot of laughs about it afterwards while getting high off the legal killer drug cops like so much. They live by the motto "we don't need no stinkin' liberty and justice for all crap around here".

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 11:19am Permalink
newageblues (not verified)

I won't use it on your site again. But the image of masked plainclothes cops simulating a carjacking over 1/4 ounce of pot... And the gall it takes to use alcohol and get frantic over people using weed... and knowing nothing is going to happen to the killers of the Pastor in Georgia...

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 9:38pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by newageblues (not verified)

No problem -- and your participation is valued here. We are gradually promulgating more specific guidelines than we have done previously, that's all.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Tue, 09/15/2009 - 10:01pm Permalink
rita (not verified)

unless you own a police badge, which you don't have to actually SHOW anyone, just so YOU know you have it. These terrorists (can we call them terrorists?) KILLED an unarmed man because THEY had bought illegal drugs. Oh, wait, isn't buying illegal drugs AGAINST THE LAW?

They SAY they just wanted to talk, which no doubt explains why they ran at him with guns drawn. They SAY that they fired because their lives were in danger, but the surveillance video clearly shows them firing as Ayers was BACKING AWAY.

So, they break the law, thereby creating more "drug-related" crime. Then they put their own stupid lives in danger, which they have to "protect" by creating yet another victim of "drug-related" violence. Then they compile statistics on drug-related crime and violence, thereby proving that drugs are very, very dangerous.


Wed, 09/16/2009 - 3:13pm Permalink
rita (not verified)

With all due respect for your desire to keep things civil -- drug warriors call drug users lowlife scumbags, out loud, in public, in court and in print. They wave guns at our children and then accuse us of child abuse. They call all drug addicts thieves and say that drugs cause violence, but THEY'RE the ones with the guns and grenades; THEY'RE the ones breaking into our homes and accosting us on the street and stealing our property. They say American drug users support international terrorism, but EVERY drug raid is a terrorist attack. They, and the mainstream media, call us murderers, responsible for the Mexican drug cartels' reign of terror, while they gun us down in the streets.

Then they have the gall to say that drug use causes disrespect for the law.

And do you think that drug warriors EVER consider the kind of society they're creating, not just for OUR childrens' children, but THEIR children's children as well?

Wed, 09/16/2009 - 4:03pm Permalink
borden (not verified)

In reply to by rita (not verified)


Ultimately the question of whether to blame police officers for the situation (which they didn't create), or how much to blame them, is a philosophical one. As I wrote above, I share the anger, and we have done our share of attacking here.

At the end of the day, though, I believe that the use of that type of language hurts our credibility, and without credibility we won't have any chance of winning this.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Wed, 09/16/2009 - 4:06pm Permalink

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