After review of facts and the relevant law, the District Attorney’s Office will not pursue charges against Joe Hendrix arising out of the tragic shooting death of Ronald Westbrook.
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, November 27, 2013, a Chickamauga area resident observed a man in her driveway shining a flashlight into a car in the driveway. A call was made to Walker County 911. Deputy Simpson with the Walker County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched. Deputy Simpson was in the area of North Marble Top Road in response to this ‘prowler’ call when, at about 2:30 a.m., he observed a man later identified as Ronald Westbrook walking away from a mailbox at the end of a driveway. Westbrook had a flashlight and several items of mail in his hand. He also had two dogs with him. The temperature that morning was extremely cold and windy. The deputy was concerned for Westbrook being out at that hour and in those weather conditions. He asked Westbrook if he was okay. Westbrook replied he was okay and walked away from the deputy. The deputy inquired further if he lived in the area and, without stopping, Westbrook said he lived up the driveway. The deputy described Westbrook as being upset with the deputy’s inquiries.
Later the same morning, at approximately 4:00 a.m., another call was placed to 911 by the female resident of the last house in the cul-de-sac at Cottage Crest Court in Chickamauga, Georgia. She reported a man, later identified as Westbrook, ringing the doorbell and trying to open the front door of her residence. A deputy was immediately dispatched in response. After his attempts to gain entry at the front of the house were unsuccessful, Westbrook made his way to the north side of the residence and ultimately to the rear of the residence. Joe Hendrix, an occupant of the residence, took a handgun and left the house to confront the man. Hendrix came around the corner of the house and yelled at Westbrook first to stop and then to come to him. There was no external lighting and the flashlight Westbrook had earlier was either not working or was turned off. Westbrook never verbally responded to Hendrix but began to advance towards Hendrix in what Hendrix described as a quick and aggressive manner. Hendrix could only see a silhouette figure carrying a cylindrical object in his hand but could not make out anything else. Hendrix shouted at Westbrook to stop. Westbrook made no verbal response but continued to advance towards Hendrix in the same manner. Hendrix retreated to the front corner of the house. Hendrix was concerned that if the man got by him, his girlfriend in the house would be defenseless. Hendrix shot 3 to 4 times. Westbrook fell to the ground and Hendrix ran back into the house. Later examination revealed Westbrook had been shot one time in the chest and he died as a result. The flashlight and pieces of mail from other local residents were found beside Westbrook.
Westbrook suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. Westbrook was about 1.3 miles from his home when approached by Deputy Simpson. The shooting occurred approximately 2.7 miles from Westbrook’s home.