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Dougherty officers on paid leave during investigation

ALBANY, Ga.: The Dougherty County Police Chief says that three officers involved in a Tuesday night traffic stop that ended with the death of a man in custody have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Chief Don Cheek said that the move is part of the department's standard operating procedure.

The officers, who have yet to be identified by the department, were involved in a traffic stop early Tuesday morning during which GBI officials say that 36-year-old Denevious Thomas attempted to flee from police before being tasered and apprehended.

Several minutes later, as police were interviewing the passenger of the vehicle and awaiting the arrival of an ambulance, Thomas died.

In Wednesday's edition, The Herald incorrectly stated officer Dan McMullen's role at the scene based on a shift report provided by the DCP. McMullen, whose name was on the Dougherty County Police Shift report for the incident, worked the crash part of the investigation when police say Thomas ran into a brick wall near the intersection of Sunny Lane and Jefferies Avenue, Cheek said.

Thomas' body is scheduled for autopsy at the GBI's crime lab. A definitive cause of death has yet to be determined.

GBI Special-Agent-In-Charge Mark Pro told The Herald Tuesday that initial indications were that Thomas was alive after he had been tasered and managed to walk back to the police car where he had been placed under arrest.

Public records show that Thomas had struggled with drugs and other criminal activity which led to a brief stay in state prison.

Court records state that Thomas had been convicted in Dougherty Superior Court for a variety of drug-related offenses spanning the last two decades, including: selling cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in June 15, 1992; possession of cocaine, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and tampering with evidence in 2001; and possession of cocaine in February 2007.