Georgia Man Cleared Of Charges In Fatally Shooting Wandering Man With Alzheimer’s


A Georgia man will not face charges after he shot and killed a neighbor who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

According to The Associated Press, charges against Joe Hendrix, 35, have been dismissed in the Nov. 27 fatal shooting of 72-year-old Ronald Westbrook, who he mistook for an intruder.

District Attorney Herbert Franklin says Hendrix will not be charged in what his office called a “tragic shooting death” in a written statement.

“I’m a little upset,” said Deanne Westbrook, Ronald’s widow. She said she felt police and prosecutors had done a thorough job. “I really wanted to see it go before a grand jury, and then maybe before a jury. But they tell me there’s not enough evidence for that.”

Police say Westbrook, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, left his house around 1 a.m. He showed up at the home of Hendrix in Chickamauga, Ga., knocked on the door and rang the bell just before 4 a.m.

Hendrix’s fiancée called police, while Hendrix grabbed his .40-caliber gun and went outside to confront Westbrook in the dark. Hendrix told police that he shot Westbrook four times, including once in the chest, after he was told to stop, identify himself and raise his hands.

Deanne, Westbrook’s wife of 51 years, said “her husband had become confused about where he lived and struggled to identify those closest to him.”

Westbrook, a 33-year Air Force veteran, was the president of a Lions Club before retiring and deteriorating from Alzheimer’s, a progressive disease that causes memory loss.

Before the shooting, a police officer saw Westbrook walking on the street about 2:30 a.m. and stopped him for questioning. Westbrook said he was just going to check his mail at some mailboxes nearby. Nothing alarmed the officer about the conversation, the AP reported.


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