Injured Crawford County Sheriff’s Captain recalls the moment he was shot

ROBERTA, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – A Crawford County Sheriff’s deputy says he is grateful to be alive after a recent shootout.

“It happened so quickly,” says Capt. Johnny Cleveland.  “There wasn’t time to think about anything, it went by so fast.  I didn’t have time to get scared or worry about anything.”

Cleveland, along with Lt. Keith Edwards and Deputy Delane Hill, responded to a call about a man with a rifle at the Racers convenience store, located at the intersection of Highway 80 and Olive Grove Church Road.

“As soon as I exited my vehicle, he opened rapid fire on us,” continues Cleveland. “We took cover and returned fire.”

It was the first time Cleveland, a 25 year veteran, has been involved in a shootout.

“What it felt like to me was somebody had hit me in the shoulder with a baseball bat and then it had a burning, stinging sensation and then I felt, wet I assume it was blood,” adds Cleveland.

The other two deputies were not injured.

Rickey Smithey, Jr., 31, spent three days in the hospital. When he was released on Tuesday, investigators arrested him and charged him with three counts of aggravated assault on a peace officer.

Shoshanah Roberts lives a mile from the scene of the shooting. Roberts had just heard about the deputy-involved shooting, and can’t believe it happened in her community.

“It just makes you kind of nervous you know,” expresses Roberts. “You live right here in the area and you don’t expect something like this to happen in this area.”

Roberts admits she was surprised to hear someone took aim at deputies. But she supports Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker and his deputies.

“We want to be there to protect our law enforcement.  It makes you feel terrible because they’re out there to protect you.”

Cleveland tells 41NBC although his family is upset about this shooting, he has no intentions of leaving the job he loves.

All three deputies are on paid administrative leave until the GBI’s investigation is complete.

Categories: Crawford County, Local News

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