Fishing For Justice in Macon, Georgia

Dr. Jalal Ghali

Dr. Jalal Ghali

Approximately ten rounds were fired at three fisherman on lake Tobesofkee in Macon, Georgia and to date no one has been charged or arrested. The shots, according to reports, were fired from 124 Lotus Pointe Drive, the home of Dr. Jalal Ghali, a cardiologist and Mercer University School of Medicine faculty physician. Dr. Ghali is a graduate of the University of Damascus in Syria.

The fisherman do not think their race has anything to do why no arrests have been made, but they do feel politics and the wealth of the doctor is a prime reason the wheels of justice are spinning so slowly if at all.

I spoke with one of the fisherman and allowed him to tell his version of events. This is a long interview, but I wanted to allow him the opportunity to tell his version of the events unedited.

Audio Interview With Shelby Smith

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I also covered this story in detail when it happened two week ago: Shots Fired At Fisherman From Doctor’s Mansion and Deputies Do Nothing.  Here is a brief summary for those who don’t wish to listen to the audio clip above:

Summary Of Events

Two men and a teenage boy were looking for a good place to do some fishing one Saturday night. The three men were fishing legally at a public lake at night. They had every right to be there and were very quiet so as not to disturb the neighbors or to alert the fish. They saw a red laser sight pointed at them from a nearby house then heard approximately 10 shots fired towards them. The shots hit the water near the boat only  narrowly missing them

The men immediately called a Lake Tobesofkee ranger who met them at the boat dock. They showed the ranger the house where the shots were coming from. Deputies assured them someone would be going to jail that night. Deputies arrived and knocked on the door of the house the fishermen identified. The house was owned by Dr. Jalal Ghali who works at the Mercer University school of Medicine.

Bibb County sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene and went to Dr. Ghali’s home. While at the home, an “older male” spoke to the deputies through a glass door. The older male that came to the door was believed to be Dr. Ghali.

When they asked him to step outside so they could speak to him, the male declined and told the deputies to come back in the morning after he talks with his lawyer, the incident report states.

“He also stated that this could wait until the morning because he was on call” “At this time the older male turned off all the lights to the residence and walked away from the door,” according to the incident report.  The deputies failed to ascertain how many people were inside the house or their names. Nothing else was done that night or for several more days.

Fast Forward Two Weeks Later and Nothing Still Has Been Done

david davis

Sheriff David Davis

David Davis is the Sheriff of Bibb County.  He issued a statement to local CBS affiliate WMAZ.

“The homeowner has retained an attorney who investigators are working with to gather information,” Davis said, “They have been somewhat cooperative with us in our investigation, but we still have not been able to get enough evidence or enough information to be able to say concretely who was in the house at the time that the shots were fired at the fishermen or more specifically who is responsible for firing those shots,” Davis said.

“The fishermen were not able to give us a complete description to whether they could say ‘yes, that was the person that I saw shooting at me.’ Because all they were able to see is the gunshots and see a silhouette figure up on the second floor of the house. So it’s a little bit difficult for us even if we were able to identify a suspect at this point for them to be able to pick them out concretely,” said Davis.

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If the homeowner has been cooperative then why has there been no arrest? Why no new details two weeks later?  Why hasn’t the weapon been confiscated or at least identified? Why wasn’t a gun residue test done for the people at the home that night?  Why wasn’t a team sent the next morning to investigate this further? Does Dr. Ghali own any registered weapons? Exactly what if anything has been done besides letting Dr. Ghali and his lawyer throw their weight around? How many people were in the house that night? What are the identities of the other occupants on the premises? These are the questions you would hope would be answered two weeks after shots were fired at three men. These are questions you hope would have been answered the night the shots were fired!

I wonder how many other examples in Bibb County where deputies needed the cooperation of some homeowner in Macon to investigate multiple shots being fired at three people and nothing was done.  I am going to take a wild guess that had this happened in a poorer part of town the man that opened the door would not have been as successful at sending deputies on their way. I am also willing to bet they would have found a reason to justify kicking the door down and searching the house had the occupant refused. It seems a lakeside mansion gets treated very differently than people in less affluent neighborhoods. Dr. Ghali had the right to refuse entry or to talk with them but they had plenty of reasons to get a search warrant and stay at the home till it arrived that night.

Is that the message you want to send to the public of Bibb County Sheriff Davis?  As long as you can’t identify the person that shoots at you it appears the Bibb County Sheriff department won’t really do much to investigate. Well, as long as you also happen to be rich that is.

In the audio interview Mr. Smith said that he wasn’t contacted again till around four days later by a Lieutenant Howard and then only for an additional statement. Only then did the Bibb County deputies bother to return to the home but by then any evidence was long since lost or removed.

Fishermen Give Video Interview Out of Frustration

In this video interview Shelby Smith and Adriel Miles hypothesized that had the roles been reversed and it had been the  doctor that had been fired upon there would have been swift justice. Statistics seem to back  that up. Remember the rich Texas teen that got away with murder with the Affluenza defense?  That is not an isolated case. It is also widely known that the poor are easy targets for the police because they lack knowledge about their rights and more importantly lack high-powered attorneys to defend them.

When the Justice department investigation of Ferguson revealed that their municipal court earned the small suburb of St. Louis $2.6 million in revenue in 2013 many in the country were not shocked in the least. They were only shocked that people didn’t know how frequently this happens. If you are poor you are an easy target for the police,  but if you are rich there seems to be a double standard for how you are treated.

As state and local budgets were squeezed following the 2008 recession, local authorities all over the country levied more fines and fees on those people least able to pay – and aggressively pursued them,”said Karen Dolan, an IPS fellow and lead author of the report, titled, ‘The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of Criminalization of Poverty

This particular incident seems more to do with the color green $$$ according to Shelby Smith than about race. The well-connected doctor seems to be getting very preferential treatment. On the night the shots were fired the evidence was there in the house, the suspect was there at the house, everything they needed to investigate and make an arrest was there at the house that night. They had probable cause to enter and search for weapons.

Yes, the deputies screwed up and dropped the ball the night of the shooting but even four days later no investigation had been done. One deputy was disciplined,  but doesn’t Sheriff Davis need to take responsibility for the inaction of his department days and now weeks later? It is not only the deputy that needs to take responsibility when the department failed to return to the scene immediately after they realized more should have been done. Normally a SWAT team would have been called to the scene.

Two weeks after these fishermen were nearly killed the Sheriff is still hemming and hawing with nothing to show for all the elapsed time. He claims  Dr. Ghali and his attorney have been cooperating but still cannot even let the public know if it was Dr Ghali that spoke with the deputies before they were dismissed like servants. Sheriff Davis appears to be trying to pass the blame to his subordinates when the buck should stop with him. A Sheriff has to step up to the plate and take charge. You might have an excuse for the first day of not being involved but once the media ran with this story Davis needed to personally oversee the investigation the next day. He didn’t do that and even now doesn’t appear to doing that.

Sheriff Davis has already angered many in Bibb County with his opposition to medical cannabis oil known as HB-1 sponsored by Allen Peake to help many desperately ill people in the state. Davis only supported a much lower THC oil and then only for children with epileptic seizure which would have left adults and people with cancer and many other conditions out in the cold. That heartless stance was an issue voters need to remember at the next election.

Closing Thoughts

We will stay on this story until an arrest is made. This is inexcusable. No one has been held accountable and no justice has been served for three counts of aggravated assault by a firearm and obstruction of justice according to the deputy from the scene. This was not even the first time shots have been fired at other fishermen from this home. Will it take someone’s death before an arrest is made?

Sheriff Davis’ excuse that he cannot identify the shooter simply doesn’t hold water. It is hard to identify a shooter when you completely flubbed the investigation and won’t even confirm who was at the house that evening.  The shooter was in or near the house that night and the deputies allowed all the evidence to be removed. Interview everyone at the home that night and someone will likely confess. Where is the District Attorney David Cooke or is he also afraid of the good doctor’s lawyer?

Gun residue would have also still been present on the shooter’s hands. A test that you can buy off of Amazon by the way! This is a very simple test to perform so why didn’t these deputies have this kit with them on scene to do a quick test on residents in the house? The weapon was also still there that night but two weeks later who knows where it could be.  As far at the doctor being on call, big freaking deal! Since when is being at work a get out of jail free card for aggravated assault? He could have spoken with the deputies until he was called to an emergency but more importantly I think other people were inside the home. This is likely the person the deputies needed to speak with that evening.

I have no idea who fired the shots, but I am confident they were in the house and would have failed a gun residue test had one been performed. Answering the door and saying you need to speak to an attorney certainly gives the suspicion that someone at the home was the shooter or there would have been no reason to make such a statement.

Two weeks after these fisherman were nearly killed they are still fishing for justice. They might be waiting a long time because it seems the fish aren’t biting in Macon, GA.

 Is this really the way justice works in Macon, GA? Do your job Sheriff Davis. We are watching and very soon the entire nation will be watching. 

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BIBB COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Sources:

Shots Fired At Fisherman From Doctor’s Mansion and Deputies Do Nothing.

Lake Tobesofkee fishermen: “We want justice”

“My Love of Fishing has been Taken Away”, says Fisherman Shot at on Lake Tobesofkee

Fishermen shot at on Lake Tobesofkee

 

 

 

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