GBI: Former officer killed himself after killing ex-wife, friend

Autopsy finds Cory Sasser's gunshot wound to chest was self-inflected

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter, Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A former police lieutenant in Glynn County died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a SWAT standoff at his home hours after his ex-wife and her friend were shot and killed in neighboring McIntosh County, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Robert Cory Sasser's wife and her boyfriend were shot to death Thursday night at a home outside Darien, Georgia, during a confrontation with Sasser that involved an exchange of gunfire. The victims were identified as Katie Lovett Sasser, 34, and Johnny Edward Hall Jr., 39.

Police said Sasser then led law enforcement to his Glynn County neighborhood where the standoff ensued and ended with his death. Initially, police said Cory Sasser was shot in the chest, but they didn't know if he was hit during the gunfire in McIntosh County or shot himself. Neighbors said he was parked in the driveway and refused to get out of his truck. The back window had been shot out, and police found Sasser's body inside.

The autopsy released by the GBI on Monday shows he killed himself.

The McIntosh County Sheriff's Office said Sasser died of a gunshot wound to the chest. 

Sasser had been arrested last month on charges of simple battery and criminal trespassing after his wife said he threatened to kill her and a guest while trying to kick in her door. Sasser was placed on administrative leave without pay pending an investigation.

Authorities say the couple had been separated for three months.

Sasser had been free on bond after his May incident but was arrested again after another police standoff in the woods in Glynn County. He was charged with possession of a gun in that case.

Sasser also was investigated by the GBI following the June 2010 shooting death of 35-year-old Caroline McGehee Small after a chase in Glynn County. He and Officer Todd Simpson fired eight bullets into the unarmed woman's car after the chase, neither checking her condition as their patrol car cameras recorded them discussing their shooting skills, according to the bureau's 540-page case file. The woman was declared dead a week later.

RELATED: Sasser's death rekindles memories of 2010 killing

Sasser and Simpson were cleared of criminal wrongdoing by a county grand jury in a split decision, while an internal police investigation also found no wrongdoing. At the time, the police chief said Sasser and Simpson acted reasonably and within department policy in the situation, which they perceived as life-threatening and endangering public safety.

A group calling itself Justice for Caroline that has pushed for prosecution of the officers involved in the 2010 shooting issued a statement Friday expressing sympathy for the families of all involved in Friday's incident. The statement also expressed frustration, saying members believe three deaths could have been prevented.

"Once again, children have lost their parents and families have lost their loved ones at Cory Sasser's hand," the statement said. "Too many lives have been lost due to public officials protecting and promoting one unfit to wear a badge."

News4Jax obtained hundreds of pages of Sasser's personnel Glynn County personnel file Monday, including records showing several disciplinary incidents.

  • Sasser was issued written reprimands on multiple occasions for things like unbecoming conduct, not filing an incident report and not complying with an order.
  • Sasser was suspended on multiple occasions. On suspension was for being at fault in an accident, one was for a violation of the department’s pursuit policy and one for insubordination.
  • Sasser was also in a probationary period after being promoted to lieutenant. While he was referred to as a lieutenant when he was suspended from the force in May, records show he was demoted to sergeant in February 2011.

In a letter at that time, the agency said he had “engaged in a pattern of unbecoming conduct." Sasser had also been counseled for using words that could be construed as sarcastic and demeaning.

One thing worth pointing out, while News4Jax requested the entire personnel file and discipline history for Sasser, nothing after 2012 was in the documents released. We double-checked and were told there were no disciplinary actions after 2012.

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