FORSYTH, Ga. (AP) — A white former police officer who falsely claimed that a black man shot her in central Georgia is now serving a 15-year prison sentence. Towaliga Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Thomas…
FORSYTH, Ga. (AP) — A white former police officer who falsely claimed that a black man shot her in central Georgia is now serving a 15-year prison sentence.
Towaliga Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson also ordered 43-year-old Sherry Hall to serve 23 years on probation following her prison sentence, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
Hall was an officer with the Jackson Police Department when she radioed for help early on Sept. 13, 2016. She said she’d been shot and described the suspect as a 6-foot, 230-pound (1.8-meter, 105-kilogram) black man in a green shirt and black jogging pants. She told officers that she pulled into a cul-de-sac around midnight and her car spotlight illuminated the man. She said he shot her without provocation and then ran into the woods.
A manhunt began and the community was on edge.
Authorities said just over a week later that investigators had determined Hall wasn’t a victim of a shooting and that there was never a suspect at large. A grand jury indicted Hall in July 2017 on charges including making false statements, violating her oath of office and interference with government property.
Jackson police Chief James Morgan said he still doesn’t know why Hall made up the story.
“She did a great job for us, up until that night,” Morgan told the Journal-Constitution. “So we didn’t see this coming. But this was not a mistake. It was a conscious decision and a choreographed act.”
Hall had come to the Jackson Police Department from the Griffin Police Department three months prior to the incident and had a total of about four years of experience in law enforcement, Morgan said at the time. While he’d had to talk to her about some minor issues, such as tardiness, she generally got along well with others and did her job well, he said.
Prosecutors had offered Hall a plea deal that would have included five years in prison followed by five years on probation, but she turned it down and took her chance at trial. Wilson sentenced her in August after a jury convicted her.
“She’s scared to death of prison,” Hall’s brother, Steve Weaver, told the newspaper. “She wanted to take a plea, but not one that included prison time. She thought spending 90 days in jail before posting bond was enough.”
Attorney Jordan Van Matre said he recently filed a motion for a new trial.
It’s still not entirely clear what happened and how a bullet became stuck in Hall’s bulletproof vest.
Assistant District Attorney James Moss said he was surprised Hall went to trial after having made up the entire story.
“I couldn’t prove what the motive was,” Moss said. “But I could prove that what she said was a big bucket full of malarkey.”
Kimberly Berry, Hall’s trial attorney, told the Journal-Constitution that Hall was suffering from severe emotional distress at the time.
“She was basically having a nervous breakdown,” Berry said, noting that Hall had checked herself into a mental health treatment facility the next day.
“I think Sherry, to this day, doesn’t know exactly what happened,” Berry said.