Attorney McCracken Poston said Wednesday he is questioning whether "outside political influences" helped lead to the decision not to charge a man who shot and killed an Alzheimer's patient outside a Chickamauga, Ga., residence.
Lookout Mountain Judicial District DA Herbert "Buzz" Franklin chose not to seek an indictment against Joe Hendrix.
Ronald Westbrook was killed last Nov. 27. Mr. Hendrix shot him 3-4 times when he continued to walk toward him holding what he thought might be a gun.
A short time before, a woman said Mr. Westbrook rang her doorbell and tried to get in her front door.
Mr. Hendrix said he called to Mr. Westbrook several times to try to get him to stop. He said he was afraid for the safety of his girlfriend, who was inside.
Attorney Poston said Mr. Hendrix "made sure to tell the detective, 'I work for a media outlet and I ran Scottie Mayfield's campaign last year."
The attorney said, "Mayfield, the scion of the family milk empire, recently used his influence to make an endorsement of a local political candidate.
"I want to ask our area elected officials if Mr. Mayfield or anyone else had any influence at all in their decision to refuse to prosecute the shooter of Mr. Westbrook, not only for the shooting, but for the more clear and obvious offenses of false statements to law enforcement officers."
He said Mr. Hendrix said he lived at the residence, but he said he actually does not live there.
Attorney Poston said Mr. Hendrix later said he lives in Chattanooga, but he and the female resident of the house are about to be engaged and married and that he will be living there. He said the girlfriend then said, "No, we are not."
Lee Davis, the attorney representing Joe Hendrix, responded, "I believe it is important for the public to know that Mr. Poston has no involvement with this case. He is not part of the investigation and he certainly has no special knowledge of this matter except for what he has learned through public sources. He is simply a lawyer with an opinion.
"I represent Joe Hendrix and have since the beginning of this tragic shooting. Joe Hendrix has cooperated fully in the investigation of this matter since it began. He has met with law enforcement, answered all their questions, and given a full account of his actions. Through this entire process the only contact that Joe Hendrix has had with the sheriff’s department or the district attorney’s office has been through my office.
"Mr. Poston raises baseless speculation questioning influence upon the district attorney’s investigation. There has been none. No one has sought to influence the outcome of this investigation. From the beginning, Joe Hendrix has with transparency and honesty offered his sincere apology to the family of Ronald Westbrook and cooperated fully in the investigation.
"For Mr. Poston to suggest otherwise is irresponsible; not only to my client Joe Hendrix, but also to the District Attorney Buzz Franklin, the sheriff’s department and to the Westbrook family."