An 11-year veteran officer of the Atlanta Police Department was shot Monday while executing an arrest warrant against a known gang member, according to authorities.
Officer David Rodgers, who has been with the department since 2011, was pursuing 22-year-old suspect Christian Eppinger, wanted for an October 2021 aggravated assault and robbery, at an apartment complex on Old Hapeville Road on Monday around 1:15 p.m.
“He will have a long road of recovery before him,” Deputy Chief Darin Schierbaum said during a Monday press briefing. “…What happened today is the challenge that we are against here in Atlanta and in cities across this country, where individuals are heavily armed … and are released into our communities. It causes harm to police officers, who are being assaulted at record levels across the country and placed in communities with imminent harm.”
“But this department will not be deterred. We will continue to stand in the gap. We will continue to apprehend these individuals and bring them to court so that they can be properly adjudicated,” he continued.
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While Rodgers attempted to apprehend Eppinger, the suspect brandished a handgun and allegedly shot Rodgers multiple times. Rodgers sustained serious injuries and was transported to a nearby hospital, police said.
“This perpetrator was a known gang member,” Schierbaum said.
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Eppinger then fled into the apartment complex, where police located and arrested him “in short order,” according to Schierbaum.
Rodgers, who was part of a unit seeking wanted felons, is seriously injured but remains in stable condition at Grady Health System in Atlanta.
Eppinger’s warrant stems from an October 2021 incident in which he and another suspect approached victim Darius Smith in a park and demanded he hand over his “chain,” according to an Oct. 12 police report.
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“The victim stated that one suspect had his firearm pointed against his head while the other had his weapon pointed against his ribs. The suspects then stole his diamond earrings, diamond and gold necklace, two iPhones, and his car keys” before fleeing, the police report states.
The suspect was facing charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated robbery, cruelty to children in the third degree, criminal damage to property, fleeing, hijacking a motor vehicle, interference with government property, possession of a firearm during commission, running a red light, driving on the wrong side of the road and willful obstruction of law enforcement in 2016, according to Fulton County records.
The suspect was released in December 2021, records show.
He now faces multiple additional charges, including aggravated assault with intent to kill and criminal attempt to commit murder.
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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is conducting an independent investigation into the incident, the agency said in a Tuesday statement.
So far in 2022, six police officers have been fatally shot on the job, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks officer line-of-duty deaths. More police officers were feloniously killed in 2021 than any previous year since 1995.