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Man pleads not guilty in officer shooting

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

A Hampton man accused of shooting a Clayton County police officer, who responded to an alleged domestic dispute earlier this year, pleaded not guilty Monday in Clayton County Superior Court.

Gerald Lewis Benn, through his court-appointed attorney, Peter Simmons, pleaded not guilty to the shooting of Officer Yolanda Shumaker, according to Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.

Simmons could not be reached for comment Monday.

Benn is charged with aggravated battery on a peace officer, aggravated assault on a peace officer, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, robbery, criminal damage to property, and fleeing and attempting to elude a police officer, according to court records.

The robbery charge stems from an accusation that Benn snatched a diamond, engagement ring off of the finger of his fiancé. Police say the taking of the ring is allegedly what started the domestic dispute.

Police credit a bullet-resistant vest with saving Shumaker's life during the shooting that took place Feb. 27, at 1258 Pebble Beach Lane in Hampton.

Benn's trial is on the court calendar for the July 20, before Superior Court Judge Matthew Simmons, the district attorney said.