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Bond denied for accused cop shooter

By Linda Looney-Bond

lbond@news-daily.com

The man accused in the Feb. 27 shooting of a Clayton County police officer will remain behind bars, charged with six felonies and one misdemeanor, following preliminary and bond hearings Thursday.

Magistrate Judge Richard Brown ruled that there is probable cause to bind the case of Gerald Lewis Benn, 45, over to Superior Court. Brown also upheld a previous decision denying bond, based on the felony charge of aggravated assault against a peace officer.

Brown is accused of firing two shots at Officer Yolanda Shumaker when the officer responded to a domestic-abuse call at 1258 Pebble Beach Lane in Hampton.

The bullet-proof vest the officer wore is credited with saving her life, according to Police Spokesperson Lt. Rebecca Brown. One bullet struck Shumaker's vest and the other passed through her jacket without striking her, Brown said.

Benn entered the courtroom Thursday chained at the ankles and wrists, wearing a red, inmate jumpsuit, eyeglasses, and flip flops.

Clayton County Police Detective Jeremy Hutto, the lead detective in the case, testified that Shumaker was first dispatched to the BP gas station at 11205 Tara Blvd.

He said Benn's fiancé, Paula Theus, called 911, saying that Benn had snatched her engagement ring off of her finger. "He took the ring from her, and the keys, and left her in the parking lot of Kroger," Hutto said on the stand.

Responding to questions from Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham-Lawson and court-appointed defense attorney, Peter Simmons, Hutto testified that Shumaker had followed Theus to the couple's residence, so Theus could get some of her belongings, and when the two women entered the home, along with Theus' daughter, Raquel Theus, 18, Benn told the women he was not joking and opened fire on Shumaker.

Hutto said the other two women ran to a neighbor's home, and Benn followed them. "They said that he was shooting at them," Hutto said.

Neither Theus nor her daughter was injured, according to the detective. Benn fled the scene and was arrested in Fayette County, following a high speed chase, according to police.

Following the hearing, Hutto said: "This case really angers me. She [Shumaker] was helpless and defenseless on the floor and he fired again to finish her off. We care about her. We're a tight family."

Hutto testified that Shumaker will require plastic surgery as a result of the impact from the bullet hitting her vest. He later said, "Shumaker told me 'I'm going back to policing again because I'm not going to let a bad guy stop me from doing what I love doing.'"

District Attorney Lawson said the case should go before a grand jury for indictment within the next month or two. She said Benn could get more than 60 years in prison, if convicted.