A Tale of Two Counties

Clayton County is immediately south of Atlanta. Its stereotype used to be lower/middle white flight: the auto parts store where John Wesley Morgan shot his father down is nearby. But over the last ten years, like a lot of suburban Atlanta, it’s become much more ethnically mixed. Its local government is notoriously dysfunctional even for metro Atlanta. Last night, a violent stalker story ended the way we’d prefer:

A shootout on the streets of Clayton County on Friday night sends a police officer to the hospital and leaves a suspect dead.

The incident happened in the area of Upper Riverdale Road and Tara Boulevard around 10:15 p.m. Investigators tell FOX 5 News that it all started when a minivan slammed into the back of a patrol car driven by Officer Melvin Snell while stopped at the light. They say the woman driving that minivan was involved in a “rolling domestic dispute” with a man following her in another car. That third vehicle ended up crashing into the back of the woman’s vehicle all stopped at the light.

Man tries to fight cop, pulls gun on cop and shoots him, second cop rolls up and kills the stalker. Let’s hope Officer Snell makes a full recovery, and that the woman can get her life back together.

We can then move on to Cobb County, northwest of Atlanta, whose stereotype used to be upper/middle class white flight but which also has become somewhat more diverse. Though it’s remained very politically “red”: the good residents of Cobb County will be the last to accept a passenger rail link to the city that is their reason for living in Georgia. East Cobb is suburban Whiteopia; West Cobb is more middle class. But nothing really changes:

Authorities say an officer shot and killed a man in Cobb County on Friday evening.

The incident took place around 8:10 p.m. in the 3500 block of Dallas Acworth Highway near Acworth.

The officer was responding to a domestic disturbance call when he heard shots fired and saw a man in the yard. That man allegedly did not comply to the officer’s commands to put his firearm down.

“The officer had to use deadly force to stop the threat because the officer’s life was, he believed, in danger,” said Officer Michael Bowman of the Cobb County Police Department.  “We do have a deceased victim at the residence, and as of right now, the officer is being talked to by detectives as the scene is being investigated at this point.”

There are fewer details on this one, but another domestic disturbance, another man with a gun, another death. That’s how pervasive violence between intimate partners really is. Murder over a car debt or a lotto ticket? Upper-class white people don’t do it. Mortgage fraud? Lower-class black people don’t do it—they’re the victims. But stalker/killer patterns make no distinction for class nor race; everywhere out there, there’s a person, nearly always a woman, at risk from someone, nearly always a man, whom she used to love or maybe still does or maybe just fears. But he stalks her, and underpaid cops have to shoot him. Sometimes, we get lucky and the cops shoot him before he kills her. But more often than not, we don’t.

New Twist on the Restraining Order

This gas station murder happened the other day and has been all over the news. But there’s a great story underneath a simple crime:

Hours after being denied a permanent restraining order against Roger Clark, Gregory Walker was approached by the man at a Clayton County gas station, Walker’s attorney said Thursday. Clark had already threatened to kill him over an unpaid debt, and Walker wasn’t taking any chances, Averick Walker, his attorney and cousin, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Clark sold Walker a car; Walker couldn’t pay it off in a timely manner. Walker got sick of the threats, got a temporary restraining order, and for whatever reason was turned down when he applied for a permanent protective order. So when Clark shows up and starts threatening him again, Walker kills him and is now claiming self-defense. Which, if I were on the jury, I’d be tempted to agree. Walker tried to go the legal route and the system wouldn’t work for him.

But then watch: it’ll come out that Clark was angry but not actually violently threatening Walker, and Walker was trying to use the system as a shield from being held accountable for not paying his debts.