Gooch Family Sues After Mother, 34, Killed by Deputies

The parents of Holli Gooch, who was accused of wielding a hammer before two Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies shot and killed her in her Cartersville home, are asking a jury to determine damages.

Two years after Holli Gooch was shot and killed by police in her Cartersville home after allegedly wielded a hammer, her family has filed a federal lawsuit asking a jury to determine damages at trial.

Gooch was shot when a group of Bartow County Sheriff's Office deputies and a Cartersville Police Department officer entered her home in an attempt to arrest armed robbery suspect Jeremy Starr Prather.

The lawsuit, filed by Gooch's parents on behalf of her estate and two children, ages 2 and 10, claims police entered the home in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Police, who said Prather had been seen at Gooch's house at 3 Lee St. earlier on Dec. 16, 2010, arrived about 6:30 p.m. and asked Gooch if they could come in, according to the action filed Nov. 6 in U.S. District Court in Rome. Gooch's parents say she locked her door, denying the police entry into her home because they did not have a warrant.

However, one of the deputies kicked in Gooch's door and police "rushed into her home with guns drawn—including an AR-15 machine gun...," according to the lawsuit.

"When she saw the officers break down her door and charge into her house with
guns drawn, Holli panicked and ran into the kitchen, where she was shot several times and killed by [two deputies] after she allegedly picked up a hammer and wielded it as a weapon," the suit continues.

Sheriff Clark Millsap after the shooting told The Daily Tribune News that Prather had ran out the back door, and Gooch began attacking a deputy with the hammer, injured an officer's hand and refused to stop her attack.

"They did what they had to do. It's very unfortunate, it's a tragedy really," Millsap said, according to the newspaper. "She had ability, opportunity and jeopardy....The officers didn't have a choice."

But the officers should have known they had no legal right to enter Gooch's home and an unlawful, forced intrusion and illegal entry could have caused someone to be shot, "especially someone with a history of mental illness like Holli Gooch," according to the lawsuit.

Less than two months after Gooch's death, Millsap said his jailers then patrolmen would employ Tasers, but not due to three fatal police shootings in 2010. The main reason, he said, was the closure of the state-run mental health hospital in Rome, Northwest Georgia Regional.

Prather and another man were arrested following Gooch's death and a manhunt. Prather is serving a 20-year prison sentence for the Banana Boat armed robbery, which happened earlier Dec. 16, 2010, same day Gooch was shot and killed.

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Kathryn Blake November 19, 2012 at 09:37 PM
If they knew he was a fugitive, why did no one cover the back door? Knowing he would run, where else would he go? Think about it, And why can a grown man not use a taser, baton or physically take down a woman instead of shooting her four times. No it was not right her trying to block them but it could have been handled in a better manner.
jay November 19, 2012 at 11:51 PM
First of all, no where in the report does it state that there was a search warrant "...But the officers should have known they had no legal right to enter Gooch's home and an unlawful, forced intrusion and illegal entry could have caused someone to be shot...". § 17-5-1 - Search pursuant to lawful arrest authorized, breaks down the law under which a Constitutional Officer has the right to search and seizure. You can do the rest of the homework from there. Specifically, If a party gives consent to a search, a warrant is not required, even if the party is unaware of their right to refuse to cooperate.
jay November 19, 2012 at 11:52 PM
There are exceptions and complications to the rule, including the scope of the consent given, whether the consent is voluntarily given, and whether an individual has the right to consent to a search of another's property. In closing, the Sheriff's Office did NOT have a search warrant, they were merely showing up to a private residence "looking for the suspect", the person residing at the home did not consent to the deputies entering into the home by shutting the door and locking it. The deputy then kicked the door in, making a forceable entry into the residence. Again, Badges DO NOT grant you extra rights, it is merely a symbol of your place of employment. However, the Constitution IS the rule of law and no matter what uniform this person wears, it is the duty of that person to protect the individuals right to the Constitution and all proceedings held within it. They took an oath to said Constitution and they failed to uphold that oath.
Holly Marie Jackson November 20, 2012 at 03:14 AM
It's about time!!! I only met Holli a couple of times and she was a sweet and loving mother!!! She helped me in times of need!! I was speechless and shocked when I read about her untimely death. My heart goes out to her family indeed!!! BCS cops have been getting away with this for far too long!!!!
an annoyed citizen November 20, 2012 at 11:13 AM
If i were on that jury , this case would be won by his ladies family. I don't care what anyone of you think, the truth is this death could have been prevented. First off they had no warrant and no leagal right to kick this ladies door in and the chase her into the kitchen and use deadly force on her.so they say she had a hammer! Why couldn't the pepper spray her? It sounds to me that she ticked BCSO off by closing and locking her door so they went ahead and kicked her door in and gained entry anyway. Regardless " law enforcement are also suppose to go by rules and laws. But for some reason some of them think they are to big and bad and the civilizations have no rights! I agree with Holly Marie Jackson BCSO has a long history of this it needs to be stopped. Example there was another woman shot to death on evergreen trail just the other day. I know that they have a job but they should be made to follow certain laws and persecutions , when doing it.


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