DA to look at stand your ground law over Alzheimer's patient shooting

by: Craig Lucie Updated:

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WALKER COUNTY, Ga. - The Walker County District Attorney says he will have a meeting in two weeks to determine if the shooting death of an Alzheimer's patient is a stand your ground case.

"I feel like he should have waited inside the home unless there was more of an immediate threat," said Sheriff Steven Wilson, who says he knows some people will disagree.

Wilson says an immediate threat would have been someone trying to bust down the door of the Walker County home.

Instead, he says 72-year-old Alzheimer's patient Ronald Westbrook rang the doorbell, knocked on the door and then walked around to the back of the home Joe Hendrix, 34, and his fiancé are renting.

"Then he leaves again a second time," explained Wilson.

While Hendrix's fiancé was on the phone with a dispatcher for 10 minutes, investigators say Joe Hendrix armed himself and confronted the Air Force veteran on the side of the home.

"Hendrix says he continues coming and advancing toward him," Wilson said.

Wilson says Hendrix pulled out his gun, fired four times and killed Westbrook.

Wilson personally knows Westbrook from church, and says he suffers from dementia and was nearly 3 miles from his home Wednesday morning.

Channel 2's Craig Lucie asked the sheriff if Hendrix broke any laws.

"There's no law that I have been able to find that says he broke any law by exiting his home to protect his property," Wilson explained.

Wilson says the case may fall under Georgia's 2006 stand your ground law, but it's up to the district attorney to make that call.

Lucie called District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin and he said, "(I) probably won't classify this as a stand your ground-type situation" because traditionally homeowners have more rights.

Lucie also asked him if Hendrix would face any charges.

"In the next two weeks, we will have a discussion with all of the agencies involved and make a decision," Franklin said.

Wilson called this a very complex and unique case and said they are being very cautious with the circumstances.

He said he knew this immediately and called the district attorney to the scene so that the DA could see how everything unfolded before they processed the scene.