Saturday, January 10, 2009

Initial report of bartender slaying was wrong

Posted By on Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 3:30 PM

The AJC reports today that Atlanta police have corrected numerous details that were released in the hours after John Henderson, a bartender at the Standard Food and Spirits, was killed Jan. 7.

The most "startling" correction about Henderson's death? According to the AJC, "His killers might not have meant to kill him."

Nor was he killed execution-style, as the Atlanta Police Department initially claimed. In fact, the entire narrative of the incident inside the popular Memorial Drive bar and restaurant was way off.

The story goes on to say:

After robbing the bartenders of the business’s money, the [four or five] robbers closed the office door and fired several shots through the door before they left.

[Atlanta homicide detective Anthony] Gentile would not confirm that one of warning shots was the fatal bullet to Henderson’s head — he was shot three times, not four as originally reported by police — but the detective acknowledged that Henderson’s death could have been unintentional.

There are also several details that have been erroneously reported by police, Gentile acknowledged:

• The female bartender never hid in a cabinet for safety.

• One of the robbers never told the others not to shoot the woman.

• The robbers never told the bartenders to lie face-down on the floor.

• The wounds to Henderson did not come while one of the robbers stood over him, shooting him once in each leg and twice in the head.

Gentile said he doesn’t have a good explanation for the misinformation that was given to the media by the Atlanta Police Department, aside from saying that much information was being tossed around in the initial hours after the killing.

Though the new details might make the crime seem slightly less vicious, the gunmen wouldn't be less culpable — even if they didn't mean to kill Henderson. Under Georgia law, if a person is killed while a suspect is committing a felony (armed robbery, for example), that's "felony murder." The charge carries a mandatory life sentence.

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