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Did Officer Plant Gun, Tamper With Evidence After Shooting Teen In Head?

robert chambers crime scene
  • robert chambers

April V. Taylor

In a town where twice as many Black people were arrested as white people, and even though he had dropped out of high school, Robert Chamber had no criminal history. Despite beating those odds, in 2011, Chambers wound up dead at the hands of Houston County police. With no witnesses, the officer who fatally shot Chambers claims he had burglarized a nearby home, stolen a gun and threatened a cop’s life. But much like the killing of Walter Scott by a South Carolina police officer, many believe the gun found near Chambers’ body was planted; only this time, there is no video evidence to prove it.

The Chambers family has recently filed damning court papers alleging that Houston County police not only planted evidence on Chambers’ body and in the crime scene, but that the department is also involved in a cover-up regarding Chambers’ killing.

According to police, the home of Robert Brown had been burglarized for the second time in a month, but Brown did not see the suspect. Deputy Steven Glidden was in the area serving civil papers to people’s houses, something he normally did. Glidden was advised that a gun “may have been taken” from the house, and as he searched the area for the suspect, he came upon Chambers, walking alone on a dirt path.

Glidden reportedly asked Chambers to take his hands from his pockets, and Chambers asked why, unsure of why he was being stopped. Glidden claims that Chambers kept walking, and as he passed him, claimed that he caught the butt of a black semiautomatic pistol in Chambers’ left pocket. Glidden claims, as so many officers do, that a struggle ensued and that he shot Chambers with his Taser. Chambers, most likely scared and confused, took of running. Glidden shot at Chambers as he ran away, never warning him that he would be shot if he did not stop. Chambers was  fatally struck in the back left side of his head.

Sharese Wells, Chambers’ mother, says that officers did not offer much explanation to her about how or why her son was killed, other than that officers believed that he had been involved “in a prior crime that led to the shooting and killing and his death.” She filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 2013 against Glidden and the Houston County Sheriff’s Department that dragged on for two agonizing years before a judge ruled that Glidden killing Chambers “was reasonable under the circumstances and did not violate clearly established law.”

Unsatisfied and sure that Chambers had not committed a crime and had not deserved to die, the family eventually hired a new attorney, Jonathan Moore, the same attorney who had represented the family of Eric Garner, and his partner Luna Droubi. The two uncovered stuff they “couldn’t believe” including fingerprints that had never been analyzed, a gun that did not match up to reports and another person who was a possible suspect in the burglary who was never questioned or pursued on top of other inconsistencies. The attorneys filed papers requested that a federal judge reverse the original decision, stating that anything less would be “a gross miscarriage of justice.”

One of the first obvious suspicions is the fact that Glidden claims that Chambers was running away. When Chambers fired his taser, it began recording. While it fell to the ground and did not capture useful images, Chambers can be heard replying to Glidden’s command to get on the ground, stating, “I’m on the ground, sir,” placing doubt on Glidden’s version of events that Chambers was running away from him when he shot him.

Upon further investigation, the gun recovered from the scene of Chambers’ death does not match the make and model of the gun that was stolen from the Brown house. Photographs from the scene show a Blue Steel Taurus PT 145 Millennium Pro .45 caliber pistol manufactured in 2007, but the burglary victim reported that the gun that was stolen was a black Taurus Model PT 145 .45 caliber, manufactured between 2000 and 2003. This led attorneys to conclude that the gun found at the scene was planted there and could not have been the same gun that was stolen from the Brown household.

Officers claim the attorneys were “peddling conspiracy theories,” but there are time stamped crime scene photos that further support a cover up. A photo taken at 10:06am by Georgia Bureau of Investigations Special Agent Lee Weathersby shows the gun officers claim Chambers stole on the ground, clearly visible.(on the left)

gun photo2

However, a photo taken at 10:26am by a sheriff’s department investigator shows the same gun covered by leaves.  (on the right) Of this evidence, the court filing states, “This is direct evidence that officers at the scene of the murder tampered with the evidence and, quite likely, fabricated such evidence.”

In addition to these inconsistencies, burglary victim Antonius White nor his father were inside the home when officers investigated the burglary and never witnessed if the gun was actually missing, with White claiming that officers still have possession of the gun and refuse to return it, citing “pending litigation.”

Fingerprints taken from Chambers’ body were never compared to multiple sets of fingerprints taken from the burglary scene, and while two items that were supposedly taken during the burglary were allegedly found near Chambers’, a laptop that was stolen was not recovered, leaving many to wonder what would have happened to it if Chambers did in fact steal it.

Attorneys have also uncovered evidence that leads them to believe that Glidden lied about how close he was to Chambers when he shot him. Drag marks of blood and brain matter seen in crime scene photos, the fact that his shirt and sweater were lifted up, and the fact that he had grass clippings only on the right side of his arm lead them to believe that Glidden dragged Chambers body in an attempt to cover up how close the two were when the fatal shot was fired.

All these years later, Chambers mother is still seeking justice for her son. Sure that Glidden’s version of events and the investigation into her son’s death are misleading and inaccurate, she is determined to pursue justice through this most recent filing and clear her son’s name.

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