Man facing 105 years in prison for shooting at would-be thief
By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
David Sturdivant has lost his liberty, a kidney, his home, his business and all his belongings.
Johnny Crawford, Jcrawford@ajc.com Pipes, tires and trash are scattered all over the property once owned by David Sturdivant on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. His deceased father’s house is on the property but it also has been looted.
Fulton County Sheriff’s Department David Sturdivant has been held at the Fulton County Jail since April 8.
Johnny Crawford, Jcrawford@ajc.com David Sturdivant lived in this two-story structure that was attached to a one-story cinder-block building that was the shop for his lawn mower repair business. The looters have turned the property into a trash dump.
He has nothing left other than the $21 a friend put on his account at the Fulton County Jail, where he has been since April 8.
The 64-year-old Marine Purple Heart recipient could have left jail two weeks ago, but he refused to plead guilty to a misdemeanor, a deal that included 12 months probation with credit for the seven months served. The deal would have let Sturdivant keep his guns – four rifles and a pistol — as well as his military disability benefits, according to the prosecutor.
Fulton County Judge Kelly Lee told Sturdivant it was a good offer because he was looking at as much as 105 years in prison if a jury convicted him of all six felony charges he faces.
“He was under the mistaken belief it would be OK to shoot at an intruder,” senior assistant district attorney Jason Park said in court. Sturdivant is charged with shooting at a man in his yard — not in his house — that he thought was there to steal from him. (ed. “so of course we had to ruin his life over this and leave him destitute with a possiblity of spending 105 years in jail for something we could have administrastively reduced to to a misdameanor firing of a weapon, but we’re not gonna do that, he will have to be utterly destroyed before we the powers that be are happy)
Yet as far as Sturdivant is concerned, he did nothing wrong.
“We’ll go to trial,” public defender Wes Bryant told the judge on Oct. 27.
It has been quite an odyssey for Sturdivant since he woke from a nap just after 1 p.m. April 8 to go to the bathroom.
A police officer shot him in the stomach, which cost him a kidney. His house and business burned almost two months later while he was in jail. The tools and lawnmowers Sturdivant had in his shop for repair have been stolen. His antique Thunderbird and white Ford 150 pickup, electronics and HAM radio equipment that belonged to his father, the surveillance cameras positioned around the property, his clothes, important papers and even the door knobs and the key to his mailbox, all gone. He has no family and his only friend is already caring for an elderly mother and can’t take him in.
The Veterans Administration, alerted to Sturdivant’s plight, said it has programs that help homeless vets and someone would go to the jail to talk with Sturdivant about services available in the next few days.
According to police reports, Sturdivant awoke on that Friday afternoon to see Dennis Alexander in his yard. Alexander’s pickup was parked beside the engine repair shop attached to Sturdivant’s house and one of the riding lawnmowers in for repair was positioned near the open tailgate to the bed of the Dodge Ram. Alexander, jailed several times for property crimes but not charged in this case, told police he was there to buy parts.
“Get off my property and stop stealing my stuff,” Sturdivant shouted at Alexander from the second-floor balcony.
The neighbors said Alexander, who was not charged in this encounter, mocked Sturdivant. Sturdivant, a frequent target of thieves, answered with a single shot from his commercial-grade M14.
Police officers nearby with a crew filming the truTV reality television program Bait Car heard the shot — the only one Sturdivant fired — and responded to the corner of Bolton Road and Collier Drive to find a naked and armed Sturdivant.
A truTV camera captured it all – the confusion, tension, the fast breathing and the adrenaline of the officers who swarmed to the corner lot shrouded by trees, bushes and underbrush.
Two of the officers, including the one who fired the shot that hit Sturdivant, were still wearing microphones from the Bait Car taping when they responded to the shot.
“Where he at? Where he at?” an officer can be heard shouting.
Another says, “You got a shot, take it.”
“Drop the gun,” one officer shouts.
A second later one rifle shot is fired.
“I think he’s down. He went down. He went down. He went down. I don’t see him any more,” said one of the first officers wearing the mic from the taping.
A minute and 45 seconds later, Sturdivant peeked over a four-foot-tall piece of plywood that was the railing for his balcony and three police officers responded with gun fire. According to court records three officers fired a total of 14 times.
“Did he pop up?” asks a second officer, still wearing a microphone from the television taping.
“Did you guys see a gun? Did he see a gun? I hope it was a gun.”
Inside his house, Sturdivant called 911 for an ambulance. He told the operator the police had shot him.
According to court records, the bullet that hit Sturdivant first passed through the strap of his rifle and then a wooden piece on the barrel before going into the left side of his abdomen. His lawyer says the route of the bullet suggests that Sturdivant never pointed the rifle at the officers. APD’s internal investigation into the shooting is pending.
Sturdivant was at Grady Memorial Hospital for about a week and he has been housed in the medical unit at the jail since.
On May 30, there was a fire on his property that the fire department called “suspicious.”
His house and everything inside burned. Vandals have left his late-father’s house a few yards away uninhabitable. All Sturdivant’s tools for his business have been stolen from his repair shop. At the same time, it looks as if the property where he lived all his life except for his four tours in Vietnam is now being treated as a garbage dump.
“Looters have taken everything,” said Sturdivant’s friend from childhood, Bill Erquitt. “Now it’s the biggest trash heap. … If it’s metal, it’s gone.”
Sturdivant is still waiting for his trial to be scheduled and is hopeful of the outcome, according to his lawyer. He has nothing left to lose.
so after years of being preyed on by the goblins of his neighborhood he sends out a warnning shot, and as the law abiding member of the community who by the way served his country and is a recipient of the purple heart, he gets shot by the bueracrat police triggerhappy and dragging along a film crew.
sounds about right……
your role as a law abiding serf is to roll over and show your belly when the wolves of your comunity attack you, and if you get uppity the police are going to come and show you the error of your ways for protecting your self and your property from the “redistributors” of the community.
what we have is the law now telling us that a thief who wants what you have is intitled to take it and you cant stop them.
he is now like job. everything has been taken from him by the rapacious state and an evil criminal community. home and business burned and looted, one kidney shot out, and facing life in jail for not genuflecting in front of the powers that be.
utterly destroyed for daring to protect whats his.
slowly but surely we are transforming to a nation that punishes rightousness, and nurtures, encourages evil. for what is this doing if not encouraging evil? the prosecutor in this case is a scum bag. his actions have led to the destruction of all this mans wealth. the police are scum, they raced in and shot this man on and in his own property without even knowing if he had a gun, and without even knowing what was going on.
Charges dropped against veteran
By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
All of David Sturdivant’s possessions fit in a paper sack he held tightly as he waited Friday in a wheelchair, with a folded walker, outside the Fulton County Jail. He had been an inmate there since a police officer shot him in the stomach seven months ago.
David Sturdivant, who was shot in the stomach and arrested by the Atlanta Police Department in April, was released from jail today Friday November 11, 2011 after the charges against him were dropped.
Pipes, tires and trash are scattered all over the property once owned by David Sturdivant on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2011. His deceased father’s house is on the property but it also has been looted.
Since then, the 64-year-old former Marine and Purple Heart recipient has lost a kidney, his home, his business and all his belongings. But Friday he gained his freedom after prosecutors dismissed six felony charges related to an incident at Sturdivant’s home where he shot at someone he thought was stealing from him.