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ADDU fatal shooting suit settled

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- The insurance carrier for law enforcement agencies in Dougherty County has agreed to a $40,000 settlement with the estate of a man who was killed during a traffic stop in January 2009, county law enforcement officials say.

Dougherty Police Chief Don Cheek, who chairs the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit Policy and Review Board, said the settlement with the estate of Clayton Lewis Jr. does not acknowledge or imply any guilt or wrongdoing by ADDU officers in the Jan. 20, 2009 incident and was negotiated without the knowledge or consent of the ADDU or Dougherty County.

Lewis was killed during an attempted arrest following a traffic stop on the Liberty Expressway between North Slappey Boulevard and North Jefferson Street.

During the stop, then-ADDU agent Mark Farley jumped into the back seat of Lewis' car after Lewis refused to step out of the vehicle or pull the keys from the ignition.

When he did, a GBI report states that Lewis started the car, pulled onto the expressway and a scuffle ensued.

During the scuffle, Farley told investigators he emptied his handgun in Lewis' general direction, striking him eight times. Farley was also injured when a bullet was deflected.

Although a weapon was later found in the median of the expressway along the route the car traveled, Lewis fired no shots during the incident.

ADDU and its officers were previously cleared of any wrongdoing in the incident through an investigation by the GBI and an independent review by a special prosecutor.

Cheek noted that the settlement, which was agreed to by Columbia Casualty Co., is the minimum settlement covered by the policy and that the money does not come from Dougherty County's general funds.

"We would've all preferred that this incident had not occurred, but unfortunately you never know, day-to-day, what's going to happen in a law enforcement capacity," Cheek said.

ADDU Commander Maj. Bill Berry, who was not the commander of the unit at the time of the incident, said he was glad to have the last remaining piece of this investigation put behind them.

"I inherited it. I came on board after it happened, so I"m glad it's over with so we can concentrate on other activities, so the officers can be concerned with what's going on," Berry said.

Farley now works with the Dougherty Sheriff's office and is no longer assigned to the drug unit.