Police say the Georgia teen was armed and dangerous. His family and their lawyers smell a coverup.
It felt about as cold as it can get in Warner Robins, Georgia, in the early morning hours of Jan. 24, 2011. Robert Chambers, 19, saw his breath as he walked along the dirt path that traced the edge of a wooded area near Feagin Mill Middle School.
Maybe he thought about girls. Everyone knew Chambers as a ladies man who carried his skinny, 5-foot-8-inch frame with considerable swagger. Just the day before, Chambers had stood in a driveway with two neighborhood girls, flirting and laughing.
Maybe he thought about his future. He had dreams of being a contractor one day and building a community center for teens who needed a place to go to stay out of trouble. Like many young men his age in that part of the state, Chambers had dropped out of high school, but was working on getting his GED. In the meantime, he just wanted a job.
That morning, just as he did on many mornings, Chambers made the 50-minute walk from his mother’s home to the Five Star Nissan dealership, where he’d often ask for work detailing cars. He also expected a call that day about a job at a local grocery store.
Maybe his thoughts turned to his family: His mother, whom he adored, was raising Chambers and his younger brother, Roderich, and sister, Ka’Treana, on her own, working two jobs to provide for the kids. Maybe he thought about his siblings, who always went to him for guidance, or his uncle, who’d always been a father figure.
But there’s no way Chambers thought about what cops say he thought about that morning, his friends and family attest. Chambers was non-confrontational. He always avoided violence. He never even really got into trouble, for God’s sake, and in a town where police arrested twice as many blacks as whites, Chambers, an African-American, had no criminal history.
Yet later that morning, his mother, Sharese Wells, heard a knock on the door. A police officer stood in the doorway, along with the coroner.
Just a few minutes away from Wells’ home, her son’s body lay in the dirt, blood pooling from his head. Next to him was a gun, which a Houston County officer said Chambers had dropped before the officer fatally shot him. Aside from the cop, who was unhurt, no one saw what happened. Police said Chambers had burglarized a nearby home, stolen a gun and put a cop’s life in jeopardy.
But maybe he didn’t.
Last month, lawyers for the Chambers family filed damning new court papers alleging that the Houston County police planted evidence on Chambers’ body and in the crime scene. Those court papers, including hundreds of documents and evidence, have been reviewed by The Huffington Post.
It was the second time that month that someone had broken into the home Robert Brown shared with his son, Antoninus White. On Jan. 12, 2011, a thief had made off with three guns and a Playstation 3. So when Brown, 63, came home on Jan. 24 to see his front door pried open, he knew it had happened again. He called the police.
Houston County Deputy Eugene Parker arrived at the residence at around 8:40 a.m. Brown told Parker he’d heard someone run out the back door, but he didn’t get a look at the suspect.
Nearby, 51-year-old Deputy Steven Glidden was doing what he usually did for the department: serving civil papers to people’s houses. Prior to joining the Houston County Sheriff’s Department, he’d worked as a cop down in Florida, and before that, he served in the Army for six years in the ’80s. During his 10 years in Warner Robins, he’d never fired his gun in the line of duty.
When he heard a call on the radio about a nearby burglary, Glidden asked his supervisors for the green light to assist Parker. He got it.
Thirty minutes later, a short three-minute walk from Brown’s house, Glidden searched a wooded area near Feagin Mill Middle School. He’d just received a call: Parker told him a gun “may have been taken” from the house.
Glidden turned a corner on the dirt path, and saw a black teen walking alone. In a later deposition, he said Chambers had an “oh crap” look on his face. Glidden estimated the kid was 14 or 15 years old.
Glidden told Chambers to remove his hands from his jacket pockets.
“What’s goin’ on, why?” Chambers asked.
In his deposition, Glidden described how he repeated his command, but Chambers didn’t listen. Instead, he kept walking toward Glidden until the two were within a couple feet of one another. Chambers stepped to the right, as if to pass, his hands finally leaving his pockets. But out of the corner of his eye, Glidden saw something: the butt of a black semiautomatic pistol in Chambers’ left pocket.
Glidden says he lunged after the weapon with his right hand, and a struggle ensued. When Glidden felt Chambers reaching for his service weapon, Glidden shot him with a Taser, but the electric rods couldn’t pierce through Chambers’ winter jacket. A camera on the Taser began recording, but it got knocked out of Glidden’s hand and didn’t capture much.
According to Glidden, he still managed to get Chambers to the ground. Seconds later, the teen got up, flinging his jacket down. The video recorded Glidden yelling for Chambers to get down. At some point, the gun Chambers had in his left jacket pocket fell out onto the ground — but Glidden didn’t realize that. Chambers started to run away.
Chambers ran toward a residential neighborhood. The teen still had a gun, Glidden thought, as he lifted his weapon and fired. A single round struck Chambers in the back left side of his head.
Droubi and Moore, the new lawyers on the case, say there are several inconsistencies surrounding the scene of the shooting.
First, photographs from the woods show a Blue Steel Taurus PT 145 Millennium Pro .45-caliber pistol on the ground. But a police report says that White told police a different gun model was in the house that morning: a black Taurus Model PT 145 .45-caliber. The first gun was a model manufactured in 2007; the second was manufactured between 2000 and 2003.
Droubi and Moore allege the police planted another weapon at the scene. The lawyers filed court papers earlier this month that contend “it is now certain that the gun found at the location where Mr. Chambers was killed was not the same gun owned by Antonius White.”
The Houston County’s Sheriff’s Department, in a court filing this week, blasted Droubi and Moore for peddling a “conspiracy theory.” The department pointed to another police report which said White had in fact reported a Millennium Pro missing from the house, and that it was “the same brand, model and type of handgun found at the scene.”
Another inconsistency: At 10:06 a.m. the morning of Chambers’ death, Special Agent Lee Weathersby of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, which investigates police-involved shootings in the state, took a timestamped photo from the scene. It shows the gun Chambers allegedly stole, clearly visible on the ground.
Yet just 20 minutes after the first photo was shot, another photo taken at 10:26 a.m. by a sheriff’s department investigator shows the same gun covered in leaves. …Read the Most Damning Facts the Lawyers Uncovered Here…