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Georgia man to be executed for 1997 killing of police officer

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Georgia on Wednesday plans to execute a man who opened fire on Atlanta police with an AR-15 rifle in 1997, killing one officer and critically wounding another after they had given his intoxicated girlfriend a ride home.

Gregory Paul Lawler, 63, is scheduled to be executed by injection at 7 p.m. EDT at a state prison in Jackson. The execution would be the seventh this year in Georgia, matching Texas for the most death sentences carried out in a state in 2016, according to data from the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center.

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There have been 16 executions in the United States in 2016, compared to 28 last year, the center’s data shows.

Lawler was sentenced to death in 2000 after being found guilty in the murder of officer John Sowa, 28. A second officer, Patricia Cocciolone, survived the shooting with a shattered pelvis, damaged intestines and permanent brain injury. She testified at Lawler’s trial, according to a Georgia Supreme Court summary of the case.

The synopsis said Lawler and his girlfriend had been drinking at a bar near their Atlanta apartment the night of the October 1997 shooting.

Police were summoned by a witness who thought he saw Lawler hit the woman with a bag as they walked home. Lawler fled when officers arrived.

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The officers decided to help the girlfriend get home. At the apartment, they were met by Lawler, who fired at the officers 15 times, the case summary said.

Both Sowa and Cocciolone still had their pistols strapped into their holsters when backup arrived. Lawler surrendered after a six-hour standoff, according to court records.

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At his trial, a coworker testified Lawler had talked about having “an extreme dislike” of police and that if they ever tried to enter his home he would be “ready for them,” court records said.

Georgia’s State Board of Pardons and Paroles denied Lawler’s request for clemency on Tuesday. In their petition to the board, his attorneys said Lawler had recently been diagnosed with autism, a disorder that had prevented him from explaining the murder to jurors.

“Instead, he could only offer his confused and angry insistence that he had acted within his rights, which provoked his jury further and alarmed even his defense counsel,” according to the petition, which sought to have Lawler’s sentence commuted to life in prison without parole.

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(Reporting by David Beasley; Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott)

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news outlets, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Michael Moore breaks down why Trump is ‘scared’ of The Squad: ‘They’re the force out there!’

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Legendary filmmaker Michael Moore revealed why President Donald Trump is so scared of the women of color in Congress known as The Squad.

The Squad is made up of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

"So, Michael, when your political opposition tells you this is the play we’re going to run and the president underscores it, and they’re running this play, is there any — is The Squad blameless for giving the president a steady stream of oxygen and ammunition?" MSNBC's Brian Williams asked.

"I’m so glad he’s that frightened of them, both he and [Benjamin] Netanyahu are scared of them. And the reason they are is — and this is why Trump isn’t as dumb as he comes off," Moore said.

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Trump has spent his vacation golfing, watching cable TV — and panicking about a recession: AP

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While President Donald Trump has been able to golf frequently while on vacation in New Jersey, he may not return to DC well-rested.

"Trump has spent much of the week at his New Jersey golf club, many of his mornings on the links, his afternoons watching cable television and his evenings calling confidants and business executives to get their take on the market’s volatility," the Associated Press reported Friday.

"Though he has expressed private worries about Wall Street, he is also skeptical about some of the weaker economic indicators, wondering if the media and establishment figures are manipulating the data to make him look bad, according to two Republicans close to the White House, not authorized to discuss private conversations," the AP noted.

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Rick Wilsons destroys Trump for ’punitive ‘dickishness’ and ‘performative assh*lery’ on HBO’s Real Time

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Republican strategist Rick Wilson slammed the Trump administration on HBO's "Real Time" with Bill Maher on Friday.

Wilson is the author of the 2018 book Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever.

The GOP consultant said America needs to replace the "Goddamn oil lobbyist who runs the f*cking EPA right now."

"This is just punitive dickishness by these people," Wilson charged. "They're just doing this to be *ssholes, they want their base to be like, 'we're taking those regulations away."

"It is just performative assh*lery," he added.

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