NWGA Scanner | July 29th, 2022

Atlanta men plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter for 2020 Dalton shooting

Two Atlanta men have pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter in connection with a 2020 shooting in Dalton and were sentenced to 12 and 10 years in prison, according to District Attorney Bert Poston.

The pleas were as a lesser included offense to felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Gregory Brent Grier also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Issac Hickman also pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a first offender felony probationer.

Grier received a sentence of 20 years, with 12 to be served in confinement followed by eight years on probation.

Hickman received 20 years, with 10 in prison followed by 10 on probation.

Grier was represented by Jonathan Melnick, an attorney from Atlanta, Hickman by Dalton attorney Jerry Moncus. Superior Court Judge Jim Wilbanks accepted the pleas and sentenced the defendants.

Had the case gone to trial, there would have been witness testimony that the defendants, along with the deceased, Jordan Chase McDougle, 22, of Cassville, left Calhoun at around 1 a.m. on Dec. 24, 2020, to come to Dalton seeking revenge against a fourth individual over an assault against McDougle that had occurred two days prior.

At around 2 that morning, shots were heard at the Fourth Avenue apartments and one of the buildings was struck by multiple rounds, although thankfully none of the residents were harmed. Some of the apartments were vacant and some of the residents were not home.

The target of McDougle’s revenge had formerly lived in that building, but was not living there and not present at the time of the shooting.

Detective Chuck Williams of the Dalton Police Department along with other officers and detectives responded and found several spent cartridge cases, mostly 9 mm, on and around the basketball court south of the building. Because it was raining that night, no other forensic evidence was recovered that might have linked any of the three to the crime scene. And no witnesses in Dalton actually saw them or saw the shooting.

As the Dalton Police Department was beginning its investigation, two men matching Grier’s and Hickman’s description dropped McDougle off at a Gordon County hospital emergency room. McDougle was alive but not conscious and had suffered a single gunshot wound through the back that had exited his abdomen. McDougle died shortly thereafter without making any statements. He was admitted as a John Doe because the men claimed they had found him that way and did not know him or know what happened.

The men left the emergency room within a minute of their arrival. It is believed that while all three men were shooting, McDougle moved forward and that in the darkness one of the other two unintentionally shot him while trying to shoot into the building.

With the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Calhoun Police Department, Detective Williams was able to piece together what happened, primarily from multiple surveillance videos in both Dalton and Calhoun, and through speaking to numerous known associates of McDougle.

The investigation was extremely challenging because many of the witnesses were convicted felons with gang affiliations, and the witnesses only knew what had happened before and after, not during the shooting. The investigative reports of the involved agencies totaled more than 500 pages by the time the investigation was complete.

Grier and Hickman left the Calhoun area later the day of the shooting and were not arrested until months later, and made no statements or admissions to law enforcement after their arrest.

Detective Williams and the Dalton Police Department did an absolutely amazing job of building the strongest case they could but the case relied heavily on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of witnesses with obvious credibility issues. Given those circumstances, and after consulting with law enforcement, Poston decided to extend the plea offers to which they ultimately agreed.

During this process, district attorney victim advocates had contact with McDougle’s family, and restitution for funeral expenses were included as conditions of the sentence. While grieving their loss, the family understood the circumstances of the case and that McDougle’s own choices and conduct that night contributed to his death. Had he survived, he could have been charged as a third co-defendant for the assault on the residents of that building.