Prosecutors will close the file of a Sept. 5 fatal shooting of a mentally ill Moultrie man without presenting the case to a Colquitt County Grand Jury.
Southern Judicial Circuit District Attorney David Miller said Tuesday afternoon that the Moultrie Police Department and Georgia Bureau of Investigation have been notified of that decision.
The family of Walter Wayne Peterson also has been notified, Miller said.
Cpl. Eric Fries, the patrol officer who fired the shots that killed Peterson, was returned to desk duty after initially being placed on paid administrative leave.
“At this point we have received and reviewed the file, and we don’t see any criminal conduct on the part of the officer,” Miller said. “We will be closing our file.”
The Peterson family has been notified that they or their attorney may request a copy of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation report on the shooting, Miller said.
Officials said that Peterson, 51, of 113 Seventh St. N.W., was shot inside his residence on Labor Day after Moultrie police officers were called to a convenience store where an irate customer had thrown a brick through the window.
A man who was at the store said at one of several community meetings held in the aftermath of the fatal shooting that Peterson was angry because he felt he had been cheated at the store.
A short time later officers surrounded Peterson’s home and tried to communicate with him.
SWAT team officers eventually went inside and Fries was the only officer who fired a weapon, the GBI has told The Observer. Peterson was hit twice. Peterson was shot after he ran at an officer with a butcher knife, the agency said.
Since the shooting Moultrie Police Chief Frank Lang has had several officers trained in recognizing mental illness and trying to resolve crisis situations without violence. Some of those officers who received the training will in turn train other police personnel.
Moultrie Fire Department and Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office employees also took part in the training.
Community awareness of mental health issues also have come to the forefront with a committee formed to examine the issue.
A mental health clinic office in Moultrie was closed in August 2009, requiring those who had received services here to go to Pelham or Thomasville for services. Since the closing, officials at Colquitt County Jail, Colquitt Regional Medical Center and domestic violence shelter Serenity House said they have noticed an increase in cases related to mental health.