Tapes show Police Actions in 2 Cases

When a former banking executive dies of a gunshot wound to the head, there were no other cops around to back up Gwinnett Police Officer Mike Saunders’ story that he had fired his weapon only after he thought the man had shot at him.

But there was a better eyewitness. The deadly traffic stop was captured on videotape.

It’s the second time in 11 months that a fatal shooting involving a Gwinnett Police Officer was videotaped.

The videotapes will probably be used in drastically a police officer and the other used in a civil trial against a Police Officer.

In Monday’s incident, the videotapes apparently backs up Saunders story and will probably be used to clear him of any wrongdoing. Authorities said an autopsy revealed that Benjamin Keith Daniel, 39, shot himself during the 1:47 a.m. stop on a Peachtree Industrial Boulevard access road near Winter Chapel Rd.

Although Daniel could not be seen on the video, Saunders’ actions were recorded clearly, said Sgt. Jeff Sligar, Gwinnett police spokesman.

Investigators who have reviewed the tape told authorities it shows Saunders running away from Daniel’s pickup truck. Saunders said he ran when he saw Daniel grab a gun.

Saunders took cover behind a patrol car and fired at Daniel’s truck because he believed Daniel had shot at him. He did not know the man had committed suicide.

“Everything we’ve seen indicates everything was handled properly on Saunders part, “said Phil Wiley, chief assistant district attorney for Gwinnett Country.

But the other videotape recorded Lanny Britt, an undercover narcotics team member, shooting an unarmed suspected drug dealer in the head.

That video is a key piece of evidence in a $10 million lawsuit filed against the country by the family of Joseph Tailent, the 21-year-old killed during a buy-bust in Norcross last November.

“it’s excellent evidence for a jury,” said Mike Puglise, the attorney pressing the civil case against the county. “It’s an excellent watchdog to keep the officer in check.”

Britt told investigators his gun accidentally discharged, according to authorities.

The videotape shoe Britt tossing his gun and reacting as if the shooting had been an accident. He was cleared by an internal police review and Gwinnett District Attorney Danny Porter.

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