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Shooting suspect back in custody
Freedom fleeting for man on bond


A week after he was released on bond against the sheriff's wishes, a man accused of attempting to shoot a deputy with a stolen gun last fall is back in custody.

Hollis Dean Garmon, 38, of Burma Road was arrested Wednesday by the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office on a probation violation.

Sheriff Ted Paxton said the state probation office notified him that a warrant for Garmon's arrest had been sought based on charges from the Oct. 21 incident.

"I was as shocked as everybody else [Wednesday] morning when I got that e-mail," Paxton said.

Garmon faces several charges from the fall incident, during which he was shot by Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Wilson. They include burglary, aggravated assault on a police officer and possession of a firearm during a felony and by a convicted felon.

Paxton said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has ruled the shooting was a justifiable use of force.

At the time of the incident, Paxton said, Garmon was on parole for an April 2009 theft conviction. He had been sentenced to serve two years in prison and eight on probation.

However, Garmon was released on parole in October 2009. His parole lifted Jan. 13 and the probation began, Paxton said.

Garmon's attorney, Robert Kenner, took issue with the most recent arrest.

"Apparently, the sheriff has managed to convince probation to arrest my client based on these allegations when he was under parole," Kenner said. "He was under the supervision of parole, not the supervision of probation at the time.

"What parole did was put a hold on him based on the new charges and once his parole expired, that's when the sheriff convinced his new probation officer to try and have his probation revoked."

Kenner said his client had not violated the law since Jan. 18, when he was released from the Forsyth County Detention Center after posting $80,300 bond.

Garmon had been held there since he was released from the hospital in November.

Forsyth County District Attorney Penny Penn explained that parole and probation are divisions of the Georgia Department of Corrections. Once the parole part of a sentence is completed, the rest may be served on probation.

Either way, both entail state supervision.

"My understanding ... is that there is case law, a Supreme Court decision ... that the state is relying on, that holds if parole doesn't revoke him for any violations, and new offenses would be a violation, that his probation can be revoked," Penn said.

Paxton has criticized the district attorney's office for agreeing to Garmon's bond, saying the suspect has a long criminal history and is a flight risk.

Jail records show Garmon was first arrested by the sheriff's office in 1992 and has since been charged with a litany of offenses, including theft, possession of methamphetamine and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

"The bottom line is that the D.A.'s office position hasn't changed," Penn said. "We wouldn't have agreed to the bond if we thought that he were a risk or the community was in jeopardy."

Penn said she thinks Garmon still has nine years to serve on probation for the prior conviction.

Her office doesn't get involved in the parole or probation offices' activities, but will represent the state during Garmon's revocation hearing.

While Garmon could ask for bond on the probation violation, her office will not agree to it, Penn said.

She acknowledged that Paxton has complained to her about Garmon's bond from the shooting, however she declined to comment further on the matter.

"Anything I have to say, I'd pick up the phone and call him and say to him directly," Penn said.

Garmon was suspected of burglary at the time of the Oct. 21 encounter, Paxton said.

Wilson and Sheriff's Investigator Tom McCullagh went that day to a residence on Keith Bridge Road, where they hoped to speak to the homeowner about Garmon's whereabouts.

Instead of the owner, Wilson encountered Garmon at the back of the home. The suspect reportedly ran to grab a shotgun from a nearby pickup.

Paxton has said Wilson fired after Garmon refused orders to drop the weapon. Authorities later determined the shotgun had been stolen in a burglary in Cherokee County.

The confrontation had ended by the time McCullagh, who heard it, ran to the back of the home.

After the incident with Garmon, both deputies were placed on administrative leave pending the GBI probe. They returned to work in November.