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Driver who ran from traffic stop, pulled gun shot by officer, deputies say

Driver airlifted to hospital; officer unhurt; GBI investigating

BRUNSWICK, Ga. – A driver pulled over Tuesday afternoon by a Glynn County police officer ran from the traffic stop and pulled a gun before he he was shot by the officer, investigators said.

According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is looking into the incident, Glynn County Patrol Officer David Sepanski pulled the driver over about 3:54 p.m. Tuesday on U.S. Hwy 17 South in Brunswick.

The driver, Kenneth Brandon Williams, 34, pulled into the Kayak Exxon gas station on Nascar Boulevard, jumped out of the vehicle and ran into a wooded area behind the station, investigators said.

"It's not normal procedure for a law-abiding citizen to be stopped by the police and take off running," said James Brown, a retired officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. "If they are running, they are running for a reason."

Sepanski, 37, followed Williams, and when he caught up to him, he deployed his stun gun, according to GBI. He said that's when Williams displayed a handgun and he pulled out his service weapon and shot Williams multiple times.

Brown said Sepanski was facing a lot of uncertainty when he got out of his car.

"That environment itself is dangerous," Brown said. "Because they are trying to escape, they could be armed; they could not be armed. You could be running into a set up."

Williams, who is listed on GBI’s sex offender registry for a 2010 second-degree rape conviction in Alabama, was airlifted to UF Health Jacksonville and was listed in good condition, GBI said.

He has been charged with aggravated assault on an officer, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. All three are felony charges.

Sepanski was unhurt, police said. He has been placed on paid administrative leave, which is routine procedure. 

Sepanski has been with the Glynn County Police Department since August 2016 and was with the Coweta County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office for five years before that.

Sepanski has three prior use-of-force against a person incidents in his record. All were ruled justifiable. Two were incidents where he deployed his Taser. The third involved "hand control."

Tuesday's shooting was the first time Sepanski used his agency-issued firearm. 

Dairy Queen employee of the month Daniella Holmes said she witnesses the moments leading up to the shooting. 

Holmes told News4Jax that she saw Williams run away from Sepanski.

"A blue truck came up and then, behind that blue truck, there was a police officer behind them with the flashing lights and then the next thing you know, a man started running and then after the man was running, that’s when the police started running after him," Holmes said. “I didn’t know what was going on, so I just went back and took some orders.”

The businesses were shut down for the night after the shooting. Holmes said the incident won't keep her from returning to work Wednesday.

A worker inside the gas station said one of the two surveillance cameras caught the entire incident, and a manager said that video has already been turned over to GBI, which is conducting an independent investigation to determine what occurred.

Once the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the Brunswick Judicial District Attorney’s Office for review.  

The Glynn County Police Department said Sepanski was wearing a body camera, but the agency is not releasing that video at this time.