Former officer in court to prove he has Purple Heart

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — A former Holly Springs police officer who was accused of lying about being a Purple Heart recipient appeared in court Tuesday for a motions hearing ahead of his trial.

Shane Ladner faces theft by deception, false swearing and false statement charges from receiving free Purple Heart license plates for years.

Tuesday's hearing was to determine what evidence can be used against him in the trial.

The state wants to include evidence of alleged tall tales that Ladner told to friends and family about being a sniper and army ranger involved in the Black Hawk Down battle in Somalia.


"Like it or not, now those things and representations that he's made to people in his life are absolutely relevant," the prosecutor said.

Ladner's attorney said that evidence is not relevant to the case.

"My contention is that we're about to spend two to four weeks in a character assassination instead of going into the issue of what supports counts two through six," the attorney said.

Ladner's attorney says he can prove his client was awarded a Purple Heart, but the general who was over Ladner says that can't be the case because there was no combat.

"None of my people that were assigned to that base at my time as commander participated in any combat operations. It did not occur," retired Gen. John Walsh said.

Ladner allegedly claimed he was injured during the invasion in Panama in 1989. His attorney later clarified that Ladner was instead wounded by shrapnel during a classified drug mission in Honduras in 1991.

Walsh said he was even aware of secret operations.

"Even Delta Force had to check in with me. There was no conceivable way that anybody could have been conducting any operation without my knowledge," he said.

Ladner made headlines in 2012 when he and his wife, Meg, were among 16 people hurt in a parade float crash in Texas. The float, which was filled with wounded veterans and their spouses, was inching across a railroad track when a freight train hit the truck.

The trial is expected to start next month.