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Attorneys for slain teen question officer's role in his death

10:47 PM, Mar 5, 2014   |    comments
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Cpl. Beth Gatny of the Euharlee Police Department

CARTERSVILLE, Ga. -- Few were paying closer attention to Monday's report on 11Alive News about Cpl. Beth Gatny of the Euharlee Police Department than Cole Law.

Law represents the family of 17-year-old Christopher Roupe.

According to the GBI, Cpl. Gatny shot and killed Roupe when he came to the door of his family's trailer home on Feb. 14.

Early on, the GBI said in a statement that Cpl. Gatny shot and killed Roupe because she said he had a gun in his hand when he answered the door.

On Monday, 11Alive's Duffie Dixon obtained the personnel records of Cpl. Beth Gatny from her former job at the Acworth Police Department. 

Gatny worked there for 10 years prior to that and personnel records indicate that she was written up and suspended a number of times for various infractions.

In 2008, while confronting three suspects, she fired her service weapon.  An internal investigation found the suspect was trying to remove his backpack. She was convinced he was going for a gun, but a fellow officer said he never thought the suspect was armed.
Internal Affairs concluded she should not be punished because the initial call for service said the suspects could have been armed. 

In the case of Chris Roupe, according to a search warrant from the GBI, Gatny told investigators "before the door could be opened...[she] heard what she believed to be the action of a firearm".

The GBI said Gatny then began drawing her service weapon when Roupe opened the front door.

Gatny told investigators, "A male subject opened the front door pointing a pistol...and pulled the trigger."

The family insists Christ wasn't holding a gun, but instead a gaming remote.

"Ashley, Chris' younger sister, Timothy the younger brother, and their father were all in direct view of what happened.  They all clearly state Chris was hold a Wii remote," said Law.

Law says he has that remote, bagged in plastic, in his possession. He showed it to the 11Alive news crew.  He said he found it three days after the shooting near the spot where Chris was killed.  He says you can see blood on it.

"The Wii remote was found in the vicinity of a TV stand that Chris fell back on when he was shot," said Law.

Co counsel Don Evans also showed two bagged toy guns found on the floor of the trailer.  He says that's the closest thing the Roupe family has to a real handgun.

"It doesn't make sense to leave behind things that could have been what the child had in his hand when he encountered the officer. If Cpl. Gatny said he had a gun, why not take them into evidence just in case," said Evans.

Law and Evans also wonder why the GBI crime scene techs didn't feel it was necessary to collect the Wii remote.

"You can see dried blood on it. I asked two GBI agents canvassing the trailer park about it, but they said it had no evidentiary value," said Law.

The GBI is expected to release its findings about the shooting to the Bartow County District Attorney in the coming days.

The hope is that it will detail what was in Roupe's hand at the time of his death and whether it matches up with Cpl. Gatny's documented version of events.

Gatny was ultimately fired from the Acworth Police department for failure to report to work.  She started requesting time off for medical reasons, but eventually used up not just vacation, but more than a month of family medical Leave.  Her superiors said they could no longer hold her position open for her.  

Records show Gatny tried to get disability, but the insurance company said her claim was "not medically supported."

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