Union City officer talks about encounter with Ariston Waiters - CBS46 News

Union City officer talks about encounter with Ariston Waiters

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Officer Luther Lewis Officer Luther Lewis
UNION CITY, GA (CBS46) -

Union City police officer Luther Lewis looked forward to the day he could finally tell his story. He waited until after a Fulton County grand jury did not indict him for shooting Ariston Waiters, 19.

Lewis said he is not the man he has been portrayed as for the past six months.

"To be turned into something from lies that I'm not. To have my family and my department torn apart about something that it's not about. That's been the most painful part of this whole process," said Lewis.

On Dec. 14, 2010 Lewis was on patrol when he responded to a 911 call about a fight in progress with shots fired. When he got there, Waiters caught his attention.

Witnesses said Waiters wasn't involved in the fight or shooting, but ran away when police arrived. Lewis would not say why he pursued Waiters. But he said initially, Waiters followed his orders to stop.

"Something changed that night, something changed. From him doing everything I asked him to do," said Lewis.

Lewis would not go into much detail about what happened between him and Waiters because he suspects Waiters' family will file a lawsuit. From the beginning, police have said there was a struggle between Waiters and Lewis and Lewis shot Waiters twice in the back.

"The control of the gun was not in my favor when the rounds were fired," Lewis said.

Lewis' attorney told CBS Atlanta News that DNA evidence presented to the grand jury proved Waiters grabbed the officer's gun. Lewis said at that point it was a matter of life or death.

"The only question was, who's walking home? Who's going back to their family?" said Lewis.

Waiters' family and supporters called Lewis a murderer and a police officer who racially profiled Waiters.

But when Fulton County's district attorney presented the case to a grand jury, jurors did not think the officer did anything wrong. They did not indict him.

Lewis has been with the Union City Police Department for five years. He is a former firefighter, Army veteran, a member of the Army National Guard, a husband and father of two. Lewis said in his five years, he has never had a complaint filed against him. He doesn't regret the decision he made that December night.

"I did not get out of bed that morning to find Ariston Waiters to shoot him. I did not come to work that day to change my life forever."

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