CAIRO — An August incident that resulted in the death of a Grady County man in police custody is likely to be examined by a grand jury next month.
South Georgia District Attorney Joe Mulholland said the death of 68-year-old Paul Charles Guerrero likely will be reviewed through a procedure known as civil inspection.
"It's a really good process … on those cases where we kind of want to see what the general public thinks on that," Mulholland said. "It's really a good opportunity to evaluate your case through the citizenry of your county."
Mulholland said he is not fully committed to taking the case down the civil inspection route, but that he is "very likely" to do so.
Civil inspections can be used in cases involving the use of deadly force by a peace officer. The process would involve the 23-person grand jury set to be convened December 14 examining the details of the incident that led to Guerrero's death and then presenting a recommendation on whether the use of force was justified or if charges should be brought against any of the individuals involved.
"It's a great thing for us to use rather than just making our own sole discretion," Mulholland said. "We can go ahead and have 23 citizens of the area go ahead and give their input."
Though district attorneys are not bound to comply with the grand jury's recommendation "it certainly gives us good feedback and obviously we want to go ahead and adhere to what the community thinks," Mulholland said.
Guerrero died August 16 after SWAT agents noticed he had become unresponsive following his arrest in an apparent domestic dispute.
A GBI press release states that Guerrero refused to communicate with authorities after he had barricaded himself in a room inside his Beth Page Road residence. A SWAT team from neighboring Thomas County attempted to force Guerrero out of the room using pepper spray and “several less lethal weapons,” but GBI says he threw out the gas canister and physically resisted arrest. The press release does not state how Guerrero exited the room.
The press release states that SWAT agents noticed Guerrero had become unresponsive after he had been handcuffed and removed from the scene. SWAT medics and emergency medical technicians at the scene attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful.
An autopsy performed in August did not reveal an immediate cause of death.
The case was handed over to Mulholland's office in September.