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Georgia Executes Man For Killing A Cop In 1997

Gregory Lawler shot two police officers 19 years ago. It was Georgia's seventh execution this year.

Originally posted on
Updated on

Nearly twenty years after Gregory Paul Lawler shot and killed an Atlanta police officer and wounded another, the state of Georgia executed him late Wednesday, the Associated Press reported early Thursday.

The execution took place after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a last-minute request to halt his execution and hear his appeal. The request, which Georgia opposed, came after the Georgia Supreme Court denied his request for a stay. There were no noted dissents.

Lawler and his girlfriend were drinking at a bar in October 1997. They left the bar and had some sort of altercation in a parking lot, according to court records. Officers John Sowa and Patricia Cocciolone approached the couple, and Lawler ran home.

The two police officers escorted Lawler's girlfriend home, where they again encountered Lawler.

"Get the fuck away from my door," Lawler said, according to court records. After his girlfriend entered the apartment, Lawler tried to shut the door on the officers — but Sowa put his hand up to stop the door.

Lawler grabbed an AR-15 rifle he had placed next to the door and fired penetrator bullets that could pierce the bullet-proof vests the officers were wearing. He instantly killed Sowa and wounded Cocciolone.

After a six-hour stand-off, a hostage negotiator convinced Lawler to surrender.

Lawler's attorneys asked the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant clemency, arguing that a new diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder helps to explain Lawler's erratic behavior and testimony. But on Tuesday, the board denied the request.

The request at the U.S. Supreme Court related to his autism spectrum diagnosis as well.

This was Georgia's seventh execution this year — tying Texas. No other state has carried out multiple executions this year.

The state uses a single drug called pentobarbital supplied by an anonymous compounding pharmacy that mixes the drug.

Chris McDaniel is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is C90B B2EF E872 EF22 4EDA DABB 50E6 F2BE 1164 FCAF

Contact Chris McDaniel at chris.mcdaniel@buzzfeed.com.

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