Gunman cross-examines deputy he once tried to kill


Police shootings across the country raise questions about the judgment of those officers. Shoot or don't shoot?

But far more often, it's not the police who go looking for trouble. Trouble shows up when they least expect it.

Marshall Rice had already served 20 years in prison when Habersham County deputies pulled him over one night in 2013.

Somehow everyone lived to tell their story. And face each other once again.

Deputies stopped Rice in October 2013, suspecting his F-150 could have been involved in the theft of some jet skis.

Deputy Graham Arrowood knew the 47-year-old driver. Lt. Tonya Elrod eventually arrived to ask some questions.

No one on this night expected Rice would get out with a gun in his hand. A gun, that would jam.

The police dashcam video recorded the dramatic scene.

"Can you step out of the truck? Step out of the truck? -- shots fired! shots fired! Drop it! Drop it now!"

You don't forget a moment like that. Lt. Elrod sure hasn't.

"Not only did he put the gun to my head. Pull the trigger. He tried his best to clear the gun and tried to shoot me two more times after that while I was backing away. And if Graham had not tackled him... and Greg had not shot him, I would be dead."

In a matter of seconds, Sgt. Greg Chastain fired seven shots, one of them going right through Rice's hat.

"They saved your life," pointed out FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis.

"Yes they did," agreed Lt. Elrod.

No one officially tracks how many police shootings happen each year. In fact, we only have a rough estimate of how many times police actually kill someone - between 400-1000 each year across the country.

We hear a lot about the questionable shootings. But even the ones that are clean… justifiable… unavoidable… still leave scars for law enforcement.

Somehow, Rice survived two gunshot wounds. When it came time in March to be tried for aggravated assault on a police officer, the twice-convicted felon chose to represent himself.

"You never saw a weapon, is that correct?" Rice cross-examined Sgt. Chastain, the deputy who shot him.

"Did I see a weapon? Yes sir. I saw one in your hand," Sgt. Chastain said calmly.

With such a strong case against him, deputies and prosecutors feared the real reason Rice wanted to play lawyer was to plan more violence.

But turns out the only real threat was emotional, when Tonya Elrod found herself under cross-examination by the same man who once tried to kill her.

"When you snatched Mr. Rice's door open and he steps out there's a period of time when you said something to him. What was it you said to Mr. Rice to make him react the way you did?" the admitted gunman asked the woman he tried to shoot.

"I did not snatch a door and I asked you to please exit the vehicle," Lt. Elrod replied.

"OK, so you didn't say nothing else to him," Rice responded. "No further questions your honor."

"Was there a part of you looking at him thinking, buddy. You don't know how lucky you are right now. You could be on trial for a lot worse than this," asked Randy. "I did think that, yes," she said.

"Were you mad at him?"

"No. I wasn't mad. I felt bad for him. I felt sorry."

Rice asked for a bench trial, meaning only judge Rusty Smith would decide his guilt. At the end of a one-day trial, with District Attorney Brian Rickman prosecuting the case, Smith found Rice guilty on all charges. Sentence - 70 years in prison.

But it's not completely a happy ending... everything back to normal.

"Now you think a little more. You know. Do they have a gun? Where would it be?" said Lt. Elrod. "It makes you question everything."

A little more than a year after he saved Lt. Elrod's life, Chastain would do the same for their sheriff. In February of this year, the two responded to the home of former deputy Anthony Giaquinta who had already killed his ex-wife and her boyfriend and wounded two officers including Sheriff Joey Terrell. Chastain fired back and killed Giaquinta.

Two officer-involved shootings that saved at least four law enforcement lives.

"Sgt. Chastain sounds like the kind of guy you want to have backing you up." said Randy.

"You do. I would take him everywhere I could. For my two guys who were there I... no words to thank them. Of how wonderful they are."

Shoot or don't shoot? How much time does a cop really have to decide? How long before the echoes of those shots finally fade?

"If law enforcement officers seem to be on a heightened sense of alert, it's because of situations like this," pointed out D.A. Rickman. "And sometimes it's hard. You know, Tonya Elrod wouldn't have told you this would be the case that changed her life where over some jet skis a guy would put a gun to her head and try to kill her."

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes advertiser stories