Updated – Pastor Jonathan Ayers Killed in Drug Sting

Updated 9/11/09 – The woman who Pastor Ayers gave a ride to on the day he was killed is 18-year-old Kala Jones Barrett from Dalton, GA. Warrants for her arrest list her home as the Relax Inn in Toccoa and that she was wanted for distribution of Cocaine. According to the girl Ayers was just giving her a ride and providing ministerial comfort and advice, which pretty much fits in with everything his friends and family have been saying all along.

Updated 9/3/09 – Before he passed away, Pastor Jonathan Paul Ayers asked paramedics who shot him. The rest of the update is at the bottom of the post.

Original Post – A multi-jurisdictional drug task force set up a sting to take place yesterday in Toccoa and a pastor from the area was inadvertently shot and killed. 29-year-old Jonathan Paul Ayers wasn’t a target in the drug sting and was not connected at all but a passenger riding in his car was.

Ayers dropped off the woman riding with him in downtown Toccoa around 2:30  Tuesday afternoon and two agents from the task force which was made up of officers from Stephens, Habersham and Rabun counties followed Ayers and attempted to question him.

Ayers tried to avoid the officers, striking one of them with his car after putting it in reverse. The officers yelled (according to witnesses as well as their statements) “Police, Stop!”. Ayers car lurched toward the law enforcement officers in a “threatening manner and one of the three agents fired a two shots which struck Ayers in the upper body. He drove off but ended up hitting a telephone pole about a block away. The pastor died at Stephens County Hospital in Toccoa.

The agent struck by Ayer’s vehicle was treated and released from the hospital and all of the agents involved have been placed on administrative leave pending investigation.

Ayers lives in Lavonia and was a pastor at Shoal Creek Baptist Church in Lavonia. His family says that he was in no way involved in drugs and police did not find any drugs in his possession or in his vehicle.

The woman who was the intended target of the sting was arrested and charged with selling cocaine. Other charges are pending and police aren’t identifying her yet.

A press conference was held earlier today concerning the shooting and Law Enforcement again said that there is no connection between Ayers and drugs. The GBI spokesman did, however, say the following; “It was thought to be the case when it led up to what happened. We later found out there was another circumstance that we cannot get into that led to the incident, not drugs.

The family of Jonathan Ayers has also released a statement. The following is from WNEG. Check out their site for more information.

A spokesperson for the Floyd-Ayers family issued the following statement […]:

“Jonathan was a good man. He was not involved in drugs. He would help anyone that needed help, give them the shirt off his back. Jonathan would have wanted to witness to the police officers involved in the shooting.

He was so excited about becoming a father and was loved by his family, friends and members of his church.”

The spokesperson told WNEG News that Jonathan Ayers was being incorrectly portrayed as a drug suspect and that he was an innocent bystander.

Update – As I mentioned at the top, prior to dying on Wednesday Jonathan Ayers asked paramedics who shot him according to the AJC. That pretty much fits in with the last comment I made in response to a visitor. Ayers’ actions point to a man who was scared and trying to get out of what looked like an ugly situation. He wasn’t aware that the men were police and even though they did identify themselves, when guys are yelling at you “Stop, Police! Get the fuck out of the car now or we’ll shoot” (just an approximation, I don’t know the exact words they yelled) the only thing one might hear is “get out of the car or I’ll shoot” and that’s if he could hear anything at all with his windows up.

Does that make the police culpable for his death? Friends of Ayers certainly think so. I am on the fence on that one though. It feels like a really big mistake, misunderstanding, mis-communication (albeit one that has cost a man his life). Should police have let him drive off and follow him,perhaps endangering other folks on the road? If he saw police lights behind him he might have pulled over realizing his mistake. It’s a bit late for that though.

The question still remains though, why was the woman who has been arrested for cocaine in his car in the first place? I’m not trying to point at anything here, really want to know. I changed my original post earlier in the evening because there was some snarky language in it that I had not intended that way, so I thought it best just to remove it entirely.

Jonathan’s Blog.

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  • Actually, WNEG reported that he was a suspect in the drug sting on several occasions and had to retract it. The man is known around the community as a good and decent man, yet his reputation has been destroyed by the supposed drug and prostitution reports. you are doing exactly as the local media has done, that is report on what you hear not on what you know to be the facts of the case. When the truth comes out I hope you will also retract your comment and cynism “So was the pastor trying to spread the good word or what?” The pastor often stopped there to get things on his way to the hospital to visit the sick. He was just trapped. If several thugs jumped out of an escalade brandishing weapons how would you have reacted? He was murdered in cold blood and it will be covered over by the local sheriff’s department with a smear job and lies.


  • OK, thanks. I hadn’t seen any of their early news items but appreciate you bringing that to my attention about WNEG.
    That one sentence did come across as a bit cynical I guess. I’ve removed that as it was a bit harsh. Probably because I am pretty cynical toward religion in general. As far as most of the people I know personally that are religious most of them are huge assets to the community and society in general. I would include Pastor Ayers in this but as I didn’t know him I can’t. As far as organized religion in general, I don’t generally get into discussions about that on this weblog as it is a never-ending argument. Apples and oranges.

    If several thugs jumped out of an escalade brandishing weapons how would you have reacted?

    I most likely wouldn’t have reacted any differently. Unfortunately I think it was a huge mistake all the way around. If it happened the way that a lot of folks think it did and Ayers was just scared and trying to get away police may have used way too much force and probably could have done without shooting him. However, if an unknown man who just dropped off a KNOWN drug user/dealer was driving a car straight toward you, how would you react? And what if you were trained to protect yourself and other officers. He reacted out of instinct and so did they. A horrible mistake but just as all of the pastor’s friends and family are circling the wagons to protect his reputation, so the law enforcement community does the same.


  • You ask why a Pastor would have someone wanted for drugs in his car??? Perhaps he was doing what more of us should be doing and risking our lives to reach out in the name of Jesus Christ to help and encourage our brothers and sisters. May his life be an inspiration to others, that we may step out of our comfort zones, out of our safe zones, and be willing to be a light unto the darkness, as Christ did. As for the cops, hey, guys, if you step in front of a moving vehicle, there’s a good chance you’re going to get hit. I have a lot of respect for most officers. I also believe you have to stay grounded and level-headed in extreme circumstances. Why were guns drawn on an unarmed man? Why didn’t they approach him while he was on foot in the store or in the parking lot, before he got into a moving vehicle? My prayers go out to all involved. I don’t know all of the circumstances, but the situation leaves many questions…and a family without a husband and father.


  • This isn’t a misunderstanding. There is no justification for the way the police acted. “They acted on instinct” is not a valid defense. There are a million better ways that they could have handled this but instead they chose to murder this man.
    Here in the USA, we are required to register our vehicles. The police had plenty of time to get the reverend’s license plate number while he was in the store. They could have sent a uniformed police officer to his house to question him. They also could have walked up to the store and approached him calmly at the entrance without brandishing their weapons. Instead, they waited until he was in his car to ambush him. I can’t fathom any explanation as to why they might have thought this would be a good idea, to wait until he was behind the wheel of his car with the engine running, so that they could jump out with weapons drawn and engage him in broad daylight in a parking lot on a busy street.
    Watch this story, they will try to justify it, they will say they are following protocol, but they won’t attempt to explain why they thought it was a good idea to ambush the guy in this manner. Obviously they had spent time investigating and following this woman, and carefully made sure that she didn’t know she was under investigation. So why did they feel the need to pull such a shocking tactic on someone who wasn’t even a suspect? A reasonable person would try to run in that situation. There are certainly law-abiding citizens in this country who would have been returning fire, and if they believed themselves to be under attack they would have every right to do so.
    The bottom line is the police instigated this and their tactics were depraved, reckless, and completely unnecessary. A reasonable person could anticipate that if they approached a car with weapons drawn, that the occupant of the car was likely to react the way that the reverend did. Because of this I believe that the officers knowingly placed this man’s life in danger and have committed manslaughter.


  • The question is, did the plain clothes officers properly identify themselves and were they wearing badges that could be clearly/easily identified?
    I know if saw at least two men jump out of truck with guns in their hands, as done in this incident, I would drive off too, in fear for my life. Since it happen so fast, I would speculate that he did not know they were undercover police officers. I seriously question, why these plain clothes drug enforcement officers did not obtain the assistance of a uniformed police officer, in marked police vehicle before try to approach the subject.
    Since the incident happen so quickly, I do not believe this young man knew they were police, but thought it might be car jacker’s, and if they yelled out “Stop Police”, how could believe them when their in plain clothes and the are dressed like everyday thugs, in jeans and T-shirts, caring guns.
    The undercover drug enforcement officers should have acquired the assistance of a marked police unit to approach to the subjects vehicle first. By not doing so, and by approaching the subject vehicle in the manor which took place in the video, it could be strenuously argued that the subject was murdered, killed recklessly do to the officers negligence, do to the officers failure to handle the matter in a more safe and professional manor. This young man more then likely died do to the reckless acts of these officers. Not only did they put the subjects life at risk, but risked the life’s of innocent citizens that were standing near by. They could of very easily arrested him while he was in the store or when he walked out. Instead they rushed him like thugs in a car jacking and I believe the young reacted out of fear for his life.
    My advice to the family, seek legal counsel to investigate the matter more closely. If the officers are negligent as it appears they may be in the video, File suit against the officers, the agency the work for, etc. It is only right, since this young mans wife is going to have to raise their baby with out a father, and then explain to the child how the police accidentally shot his/her father by mistake. This is not the first time police have acted recklessly in an investigation, like this… This is not Iraq or Afghanistan, you don’t rush some like they did in this video, unless your looking for a reason or already have the intent to kill the person, otherwise your just being completely and foolishly reckless.
    Please Note: I have no ill feeling toward peace officers, I just hate to see reckless incompetence such as this appears it may be. There a lot of good police officers out their, but the ones in this video appear to have acted recklessly in this situation and killed a innocent man for no justifiable reason.
    When officers act recklessly as it appears they may have done here, it us the tax payers that in the end get stuck with paying for their foolish mistakes. There is no place for incompetent officers on any police force, the risk is to high too tax payers..
    Marcus D Knight
    Corporate Security & Liability Consultant


  • The more I research this and watch the video the more I agree with you. It will be interesting to see what kind of spin gets put on this over the next few days as the GBI continue their investigation. Just got home from work so I haven’t had the chance to see if anything new has been released.


  • This is murder. It was caused by very bad judgment on the officers part due to reckless arrogance, by way of plain clothes and an escalde and im sure a demeanor to go with it as .
    I would have done the exact same thing as the pastor except I wouldn’t have stopped. As soon as I saw those thugs jump out with guns AT A GAS STATION! meaning they must have been nuts and meaning to kill me the only thing I would have thought was killing them first with my car!!, as only thugs jump out of a vehicle like with guns while the drug dealer lady is in his car that he was probably trying to share Christianity with. Im sure his ac was running inside the car if the windows were up. Im pissed the officers are on admin paid leave.
    If im at home cleaning my fire arm and Im dumb enough to not make sure its unloaded first and it goes off and hits my friend killing him. I will be charged with murder. Those cops did worse!!
    I will keep up with this it to see how it turns out.
    This im a cop and you will respect my authority shit needs to go. They are to protect and SERVE the tax payers!!!


  • The police recently stated they properly identified themselves to Mr. Ayers. After carefully reviewing the video again, I find the police statement to be false, or in serious question. If you watch the video carefully, then time the incident and study the physical actions of the parties involved, you will realize the police did not have enough time to identify themselves properly, before Mr. Ayers reacted.
    I honestly believe Mr. Ayers thought that someone was trying to rob him and/or car jack him. I believe he reacted out of fear and reacted as anyone might have done in the same situation.
    What the police department is trying to do is cover up the officers recklessness. So, they will try to make it look like Pastor Ayers may have been involved in some type of other criminal activity in order to justify their actions and to discredit a Mr. Ayers reputation. Which is sad, since a dead man cant defend himself from false allegations.
    The police are desperate. If the family sues, the city and state will loose millions. A well experienced liability law trial attorney can easily win this case. No matter how hard they try to cover it up, the video evidence is too damaging. Odds are this case would be settled out of court within a few years, and in the end officers involved will be force to resign, do to their negligence.
    My prayers are with they family, and I hope the family does not allow anger and the wantonness of vengeance, to fill their hearts. Seek the glory of truth and justice shall prevail. In this life and in the next those responsible shall pay for their deeds. May god watch over your family always, and give you the strength needed to prevail.
    Marcus D Knight
    Corporate Security & Liability Consult


  • Hopefully Christians will join together and help end the war on drugs.
    Nobody no matter what should ever be shot and killed for using drugs or selling drugs let alone be killed for nothing!
    Kill all the police you can and pray that they all die and go to Hell!
    Police are reincarnated Nazis from Hell.
    They have blood lust and WANT to kill people.
    The only good cop is a dead cop!!
    Fuck the police and fuck amerika.
    Death to america and God damn you all to Hell.
    I have my guns loaded and ready to start killing all the pigs I can!!


  • The problem is not the police themselves, but with the governmental policies that regulate police that aid in the creation issues such as this. Police officers do theirs jobs they way they are instructed too. Hating the police officers will not solve the problem.
    There too many variables in why police officers respond in the different ways they do in their jobs.
    1. Over bearing Prosecutors, governmental officials and Police Chiefs pressure officers to increase certain types of arrests, especially in an election year to boaster their political status, or to help them achieve political gain.
    2. Police officers, use to be able to use their own discretion while performing their duties, which allowed them the ability to let people off with just a verbal warning if they wanted too. But, over the recent decades this discretionary ability has been virtually eliminated by different governmental branches, to the point that if police do not make an arrest, or right a citation for even the most minor of violation they may risk loosing their job. City’s, States and even various Federal Government have slowly stripped officers of their privilege of making their own discretionary decisions.
    3. Another issue is that police departments now prefer to hire ex-military, which on the outside seems like a great idea, but has it’s serious draw backs. Officers that are military trained and especially those who have done combat duty are much more likely to rush into confrontations with suspects, instead of using discretionary tactical measures in order to help avoid incident.
    4. Police are also acting more like soldiers, part of it is because a portion of officers today are ex-military, the other reason is the police academy’s have become more like military boot camps in their training methods. Police Officers are separating themselves from the citizens, the public in general. Which make citizens hesitant, or even fearful of police, even when they have done nothing wrong. Especially since Officers are obligated by policy to give citations, or make arrests even for the slightest of violations.
    5. Some Police Departs also hire only people with bachelor degrees. This usually can lead to the ones who got picked on in High School becoming the ones with the badge, having a hidden chip on their shoulder and taking their revenge, or hidden rage out on innocent citizens.
    6. Then you have the Glory Cops, the ones who became a police officers for the power it holds. These are the worst of the worst in my opinion, they are more apt to abuse their powers a peace officers then any other.
    7. An additional problem is about 30% of police officers break the law themselves on a continues basis in one way or another, and an additional approximate 40% violate the law at least once during their career as a peace officer. Less then 30% of police officers actually obey by the law themselves on a daily basis. The problem is how can we truly trust these police officers who have sworn to protect us the citizens, when they themselves are violating they laws which the swore to adhere too. You must lead by example, and the problem is the police in general have failed in that category.
    I have personally witness numerous acts police corruption and judicial misconduct in my life span, from drugs, prostitution, theft, to perjury. But, I have also had the pleasure of meeting honest peace officers who truly believe in doing what is right. SO, to condemn all police officers would be the same as condemning all citizens for the acts of the few.
    Hate, prejudice, greed and derivatives of fear. It is easy to categorize and to separate, but this type of thinking is what has led this nation down the destructive path we are on today. I agree something has to be done , but violence at this time would only make things worse for all us, and would give the government an excuse to strip us of more constitutional rights. The way to defeat this plague that tears our great nation apart is through unification. We must put our differences aside and focus on the issues we agree on that need fixing. Politicians do not listen to single individuals, or small groups, they only listen when the peoples voice has become one in vast majority. Our political system is failing and it is up to us the people, to unit and demand change. If our cries for change are ignored, and after trying every course that is reasonably viable, then after all else has failed, is when we can be justified in using the minimum force necessary to protect our rights as citizens. The use of force is always a last resort, and should never be used unless there is no reasonable alternative left.
    What happen to this young man was wrong, we all agree and from what I can see from the video the police officers involved acted recklessly. But, to blame all police for the actions of these few officers would be even more wrong. IT IS NOT OUR RIGHT TO JUDGE, FOR PEOPLE WILL JUDGE THEMSLEVES THROUGH THEIR OWN ACTIONS. BUT, IT IS OBLIGATION TO SEE THAT THE INDIVIDUALS RESPONSIBLE ARE PUNISHED FAIRLY FOR THEIR ILLICIT ACTS.
    Do not let anger engulf you life, or you will never be able to find the contentment, the happiness you long for.
    Look at me I’m 42 years old and I became aware I’m dieing of a Autoimmune disorder. It is taking doctors forever to diagnose which autoimmune disorders I have. I’m on AHCCCS now, since I am unable to work do to my disability, and I run the risk of dieing before I get the treatment I desperately need, or at the very least I run the very high risk of ending up permanently crimpled. I cant even apply for Social Security Disability until I have been officially diagnosed fully by doctors as to which Autoimmune Disorder I have. So, financially I am hurting dramatically.
    I also have two daughters under the age of four which caring the disorder in their genes as well. My wife has contracted the illness in pregnancy, and she is pregnant with our third child a boy due in late November. My wife health is starting to decline as well. Odds are our children may eventually die or become permanently crimpled from this disorder as well in time.
    You don’t see us hating anyone, and we have lost everything financially. Plus every month is we struggle for to pay our bills, knowing that any moment we could become homeless. Life is not fair, all we have is each other. We fight to survive. We pray and hope for the best every day.
    SO, look at it this way, life could be a lot worse. Just look at the positive, and stop focusing on the negative. I thank God every day for my family and everyday I can spend on this earth with them… J
    We live with no regrets, just the hope for a better tomorrow….
    ***Marcus D Knight***


  • Reply

  • Hmm,a hooker ,a pastor,triggerhappypolice thugs.That is the impresion upon reading this news.And there is the “circumstance which the police cannot get into’ statement.
    Which involves pastor and the hooker. And a big question now is ‘why did the pastor try so hard,almost desperately’ to escape?
    Since he doesnt seem to be involved in the drugs angle.
    Especially more so if he knew they were police..We can and do draw our own conclusions but wont be fair to air them.Not all cops are devils in disguise but neither are they saints, pastors also!


  • Some of that was my initial reaction but from my understanding Ayers was really just trying to innocently help her out. Hell, if a bunch of guys with guns jumped out of a car my first reaction would be to run their asses over too and then beat feet.


  • Bryan, sounds like you are making assumtions. Actually he gave her a ride 1. because he knew her and had been witnessing to her for years. 2.. She was visibly having trouble walking because she had a miscarraige a week or so before. 3. He even gave her money to catch up her and and her finacee’s rent in the motel (he knew him too). Thus why he stopped at the ATM to get money. 4.For more than a year before this incident Jonathan had been working with programs all over the county preaching to the homeless and drug addicts (Just like Jesus did and tells us to) and had helped enact some type of assistance for them but was voted down.
    I do understand how that could all look suspisious to someone that didn’t know Jonathan. All of that aside.
    The plain fact is he died because of the Undercover Agents lack of Training and Overzealousness. I am not consumed with hate for these men. I pray for them, Thier lives are also runined. Jonathan would not have wanted that at all, which only makes it more sad and tragic that someone with such a beautiful soul and that had done so much for people that he didn’t even know was taken out of this world in such a horrific manor. His family is just stunned as I’m sure that you can imagine. Yes we are mad but not out for these officers blood. In society if you act reckless and someone dies YOU are held responsible for your actions. I believe that these officers should do so as well.
    Visit http://www.justice4jonathan.webs.com


  • Forgot to address one of Bryan’s questions
    Simple they looked like thugs and he thought he was being robbed. He feared for his life. I hope you never understand the terror that went thru his mind while all of this was going on. Can anybody say that they would not have been scared to death. He felt that he was in grave danger and his human instincts kicked in.


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