The family of a Georgia pastor question why he was shot and killed by undercover drug agents on Tuesday.
Jonathan Ayers, 29, pastor of Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia, was shot twice in the chest as he tried to steer his car away from what he mistakenly thought was a car jacking attempt.
Stephens County Sheriff Randy Shirley and witnesses said the police, who were part of an undercover drug sting, identified themselves as police and opened fire when Ayers steered his car "aggressively" toward one agent.
The video shows Ayers putting his car in reverse as two men dressed in plain clothes rush his car with guns drawn. The tape cuts just as he attempts to straighten his wheels. Clearly, there are no agents in front of his car.
According to Shirley, a drug task force composed of police from several counties, were conducting a sting operation. She said Ayers was not a target of the sting operation. But police were targeting a woman Ayers dropped off in downtown Toccoa, Georgia just minutes before the shooting.
The woman was taken into custody and charged with cocaine trafficking and distribution. Her name has not been released.
After Ayers dropped the woman off, police followed him to a gas station. On the video, a black SUV carrying undercover officers is seen pulling into the parking lot after Ayers left the store. “They yelled, ‘Police. Stop,’” Shirley said.
Ayers’ family maintains he was not involved in illegal drug activity. “He is one of the Godliest men I’ve ever known,” his brother-in-law Matt Carpenter told AccessNorthGa.com. “We’re all shocked and absolutely do not believe he was involved in anything illicit or illegal there.”
They also question the conflicting reports they received from law enforcement. Police first told the family Ayers was involved in a traffic accident. Then they said he had been shot. Then hours later the family was told agents shot him.
Ayers wrote a post on his blog wondering, "how many people go through life and think they are ok because they are a good person, have done some good deeds, and they aren't as bad as some other people?"
Ayers was married and the couple were expecting their first child. The GBI is investigating the shooting and the agents involved were placed on administrative leave with pay.