On April 26, 2018, the GBI was called to conduct an investigation into a shooting in which Villa Rica Police Department (VRPD) Officer Noah Tolbert fired shots at Daniel Daigle at the Easy Quick Shop located at 1607 W. Bankhead Highway. Mr. Daigle was struck by two bullets, in his right forearm and left thigh respectively, but his injuries were not life threatening. On September 26, 2018 the GBI turned their investigation into the District Attorneys Office for review. The purpose of this review was to determine whether Officer Tolbert committed a crime and whether any arguable crime was provable beyond a reasonable doubt.
The District Attorneys Office has now completed a thorough review of this investigation into Officers Tolberts use of force. This review of the case led the District Attorneys Office to conclude that the evidence should be presented to a Carroll County Grand Jury prior to the presentation of any indictment in order for the grand jury to conduct a review of the evidence pursuant to the Official Code of Georgia (OCGA)§ 15-12-71(b)(5). This code section allows the District Attorney to present evidence to a grand jury for review without presenting an indictment when the evidence relates to a peace officers use of deadly force, which results in death or serious bodily injury.
Following a grand jurys review of evidence pursuant to this code section, the grand jury has two options: (1) request that the District Attorney create a bill of indictment to charge the officer, or (2) decline to request an indictment of the officer and issue a report based on the grand jurys review of the evidence. If the grand jury does not request an indictment, the grand jurys report must include a summary of the evidence considered and the grand jurys factual findings regarding the incident. The law requires that the grand jury report be filed with the clerk and requires that the District Attorney make available for inspection or copying any evidence considered by the grand jury during the review, as well as the transcripts of the testimony of the witnesses who testified during the grand jurys review.
Using the grand jury in this capacity and creating a record reviewable by the public creates transparency about cases involving an officers use of force and allows the District Attorney to consider the perspective of the grand jury as representatives of the community prior to making a final decision about whether to present an indictment or to decline to prosecute the case. It is the evidence specific to each individual case of an officer involved shooting that determines whether the District Attorney will present an indictment against an officer, or decline to prosecute without any grand jury review, or present the evidence for grand jury review without an indictment.
After a review of the evidence regarding Officer Tolberts use of force, the District Attorney concluded that a grand jury review without presenting an indictment was appropriate so that the grand jury, as representative of the people of Carroll County, could review the evidence and report on their analysis of the evidence. The law does not require that the District Attorney follow the recommendation of a grand jury which has reviewed an officers use of force resulting in serious bodily injury. The District Attorney may, however, consider the analysis and perspective of the reviewing grand jury in deciding whether and how to proceed regarding the officers use of force. Given the facts and evidence in this use of force incident, the District Attorney believed the perspective of the grand jury would be particularly helpful in determining whether any crime could be proven against Officer Tolbert and whether any case should be pursued against Officer Tolbert.
On April 8, 2019, the District Attorneys Office presented evidence and witness testimony regarding the April 26, 2018 shooting to the Carroll County Grand Jury. Officer Mason Newman, Officer Noah Tolbert, and GBI Special Agent Larry Duren each testified. The evidence presented included Officer Tolberts body-worncamera video, two dash-cam videos from Officer Masons patrol car, several photographs taken by the GBI, an indictment that previously charged Daigle with crimes relating to this incident, and surveillance video from the Easy Quick Shop. Following their review of the evidence, the grand jury declined to recommend that Officer Tolbert be indicted and issued a report explaining its analysis of the evidence. The grand jury foreperson and clerk signed this report, and Superior Court Judge John Simpson received the report in open court on May 16, 2019.
The Grand Jury Report concludes by stating, [a]fter considering all of the above, the Grand Jury recommends no indictment be presented which charges Officer Tolbert with any criminal offense. Included with this press release are the Grand Jury Report, the transcript of the grand jury proceeding, copies of all of the exhibits presented to the grand jury, and a copy of the GBIs Investigative Summary. Copies of the above referenced videos may be obtained by contacting the Carroll County District Attorneys Office.
Following a review of the GBI investigation and the Grand Jury Report, the District Attorney agrees with the grand jurys assessment and recommendation that an indictment should not be presented against Officer Tolbert for his actions in shooting Mr. Daigle on April 26, 2018. The evidence and the perspective of the grand jury show that there is insufficient evidence to prove that Officer Tolbert acted unreasonably in using
deadly force to prevent death or great bodily harm to Officer Newman. Therefore, Officer Tolbert did not violate the laws of the State of Georgia in this matter and an indictment will not be presented to a grand jury against Officer Tolbert. Consequently, the District Attorneys Office considers this matter closed.