Georgia man avoids jail after fatally shooting man guided by GPS to wrong driveway
Philip Sailors

A Georgia man avoided jail as part of a guilty plea in the fatal shooting of a man who pulled into his driveway by mistake.


Philip Sailors admitted that he came out of his Lilburn home shooting Jan. 29, 2013, after spotting a strange car in his driveway, reported WSB-TV.

The 70-year-old fired a warning shot in the air and then a second shot through the car’s windshield after he claimed the driver accelerated toward him.

However, police said evidence showed the car was leaving Sailors’ property when he fired the shot that killed 22-year-old Rodrigo Diaz.

Three friends with Diaz were handcuffed and arrested after the shooting, although they had committed no crimes, but Sailors was not handcuffed or taken into custody.

His attorney said he would have used police handling of the case to show Sailors was justified in his fear of a home invasion if the case had gone to trial.

Sailors pleaded guilty Monday to involuntary manslaughter, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced 12 months on probation and ordered to pay a $500 fine.

Diaz had been on his way to pick up a friend to go ice-skating, but GPS guided him to the house across the street – where Sailors lives.

The victim’s family supported a sentence that would keep Sailors out of prison, saying they did not wish to destroy a second family as a result of the fatal shooting.

His father said the most important thing to him was for the court to recognize that his son, a Georgia Tech student who worked for his brother's shipping company, had done nothing wrong.

Rodrigo Diaz Sr. addressed the court with two questions during the hearing.

First, he asked through a translator why Sailors used bullets that are “designed to kill” as they explode upon penetration.

Then he asked the court for some guidance in achieving Diaz’s dream of having his younger sister emigrate from Colombia to the United States.

The court offered no response to either question, the station reported.

The Diaz family sued Sailors in May and reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount.

Sailors, who admitted as part of the lawsuit that he killed Diaz out of negligence, offered no statement or apology during his sentencing hearing.

Watch this video report posted online by WSB-TV: