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Questions unanswered, a year after shooting

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Standing in the spot where her son died a year ago, Janice Williams cried.

The winter wind flattened the tears as they traced down her cheek to her chin. She wiped them away. Standing there in front of a boarded-up gas station, in front of discarded tires and torn-apart pumps, she held tightly to a framed photo of her son, and she cried.

"My son was laying out here and all I could see was his feet," she said, and then she apologized for crying. "I'm just upset," she said.

David Nave, Jr., 19, was shot and killed at the vacant Shell station on Tara Boulevard, near the Mt. Zion intersection, on Nov. 27, 2007. He was shot three times by sheriff's deputies, who shouted "Stop running!" before they fired the fatal shots into Nave, according to witnesses. The day of the 19-year-old's death, Sheriff Victor Hill got on TV and said the shooting was justified, but now, a year has gone by and Williams is still waiting to see the evidence supposedly supporting that conclusion.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has investigated, and filed their report with the District Attorney's office. As of December, however, the evidence had not yet been presented to a grand jury.

Todd Naugle, the chief assistant district attorney, could not be reached for comment on when the case might go to the grand jury.

Williams said she was first told she would get to see the evidence in her son's death, but was then later told that wasn't allowed. She still wants to see the evidence, and try to, maybe, understand how her son died and, if possible, why.

"I just don't understand why this had to happen, when he was doing so well," Williams said.

Nave had recently dedicated his life to God, and was guided by pastor Creflo A. Dollar, of World Changers Church International, to consider going into ministry, she said.

Monique Anderson, a neighbor of Nave's who saw him die, said the 19-year-old obviously had God in his life, and would go out of his way to help people.

"You just knew, you knew he was gong to get out of the hood," Anderson said. "He taught my son to read. My son likes to rap. He's 7, he was 6 then, and he was trying, you know, to write the words down. David would take time to help him write them down and he helped my son read and write his lyrics ... As I walked up to the body that day, I knew something was wrong. I knew there was something wrong, because I know who he is."

Anderson was cleaning out her apartment that day, because it was right after Thanksgiving. She heard shouting, and saw Nave run by. She heard the deputies shouting "Stop, stop running, stop running," and then there were four shots.

"I stood over his body. He was just laid out, head looking up at the sky," Anderson remembered. "I said to the officers, I said, 'Why did y'all shoot him?'"

According to investigators, the deputies shot Nave because he was waving a large kitchen knife, in the throes of a psychotic episode. He ran out of his apartment that morning, with his mattress on fire, and he allegedly smashed a window at the BP gas station, stabbed the tire of a car, fled from sheriff's deputies and then turned and lunged with the knife.

"He drew a knife on the deputies and approached them," the sheriff said to the TV cameras, "and unfortunately, they had to defend themselves."

Witnesses, though, including Anderson, have disputed that story. Some have told Nave's mother he had his hands raised, when he was shot. Some have told her the deputies moved his body, before the GBI came, waiting hours before they even made that call.

Anderson said when she asked her question -- "Why did y'all shoot him?" -- she was told to "Go back to your rat hole."

"There was no knife," Anderson said, pacing the ground where Nave died. "He had nothing on him. He had nothing around him, not a knife, not a gun, not any kind of weapon. Just common-sense wise, why would he run out with a knife when his house was on fire?"

Williams has other questions, too. She wants to know why the sheriff's deputies were at the scene, instead of the county police officers, who are trained as first responders. She wants to know why an ambulance never came for her son. She wants to see the evidence, and she wants to know what happened.

"I have a right to know what happened," she said. "My son was a child of God, just like you."