Gwinnett County

Felony assault case dropped against former Atlanta police recruit

ATLANTA — Gwinnett prosecutors have dismissed a felony assault case against an Atlanta police recruit who lost his job in the shooting aftermath.

James Ball was a part of a Channel 2 Action News investigation examining dismissed APD recruits that aired earlier this year. Ball was behind the trigger in a 2017 Christmas Eve shooting in Dacula that injured the boyfriend of a woman Ball met online.

Newly released 911 calls and text messages that were initially sealed during the investigation reveal why prosecutors believed Ball shot the man in self-defense. He tells 911 about an attack on the woman, who had been texting him saying she was afraid of her boyfriend.

“He, uh, he charged at her both feet, ripped open my car door. He literally ripped her out of my car by her neck,” Ball told a 911 dispatcher as he stayed on the scene after the shooting.

“Ok. Where is the weapon at right now?” the dispatcher asked. “Is it secured?”

“It’s in my, it’s in my appendix in my pants right now,” Ball answered as the shooting victim, Anthoney Marshall is heard moaning in the background. Ball goes on to secure the weapon, as instructed by the dispatcher.


Ball, who was handed the phone by the woman’s sister,  tells  the dispatcher he is “with APD,” contradicting the actual police report that claimed he identified himself as an “off-duty APD officer.” In the 911 calls, the woman’s sibling also describes Ball as a police officer.

While Ball declined an on-camera interview, his attorney spoke with Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr, describing how a combination of inconsistent witness statements, social media comments made by the shooting victim in the aftermath, and Ball's behavior on scene led to the case dismissal.

“He absolutely wants to clear his name. He does,” said Jill Polster. “We can do all the cleanup on a case like this that does get dismissed, but we can’t force Google to change its algorithm, so when you Google him and APD, this is probably going to come up.”

Carr reached out to APD regarding the status of Ball’s request to return to the force in the next recruiting class. That class began this week.

Without elaborating, an APD spokesman told Carr she could report that “APD is not interested in hiring him back.”

“I think on some levels, he can certainly try to see all sides of where he sits, but he really has a passion for law enforcement,” Polster said. “So I expect he’ll continue to pursue that and hopefully land somewhere that’s a really good fit for him.”

Polster, who noted Ball had met the woman for the first time when she called her to his home for help, said there were a lot of lessons to be learned from the case.

“You know, I always caution my clients, my friends about people that they meet online,” Polster said. “I think this is definitely a cautionary tale about that.”