A Troup County jury found a former Georgia National Guard sergeant, who said he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, guilty but mentally ill for murdering an off-duty police officer at a Griffin Waffle House almost three years ago.
The jury of seven whites and five blacks reached a verdict after deliberating just over three hours Thursday. Race was an element in the trial because Michael Bowman is white and Officer Kevin Jordan was black.
On Friday the jury will begin hearing testimony as to how Bowman should be punished for murdering the Griffin police officer during the early-morning hours of May 31, 2014. The options are death, life without parole, or life with the possibility of parole.
Griffin is in Spalding County. But the death penalty trial was moved to LaGrange, in Troup County, because of concerns that local publicity surrounding the case had jeopardized Bowman’s right to a fair trial.
Bowman testified that he didn’t remember shooting Jordan five times but he didn’t doubt that he did. He blamed PTSD from three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, testifying that he reacted as if he were being attacked by the enemy.
“I just remember him (Jordan) telling us to leave, but I don’t remember nothing else,” Bowman testified.
Bowman said his only memory of the events of May 31, 2014, was the impact of the bullets fired by the police officer’s brother, Raymond Jordan, who happened to be there when Officer Jordan was killed.
Bowman, his brother Tyler Taylor, and Bowman’s girlfriend, Chantell Mixon, spent several hours at a local bar, Mama’s Country Showcase, before going to the Waffle House. Bowman said he did not drink that night but Taylor and Mixon had.
The three were asked to leave the restaurant because Mixon created a disturbance, demanding to be served immediately.
Witnesses told police Mixon became even more belligerent as Officer Jordan, a 43-year-old father of seven, walked her out. In the parking lot, Bowman shot Jordan five times in the back.
Bowman testified he suffered from PTSD following missions in Iraq and Afghanistan clearing roads of explosives, shooting to disable any vehicles that tried to follow their convoys, driving supply trucks to outposts, and providing protection to a colonel.
He was injured in an explosion on a road.
Soon after his service was over, he started having nightmares, Bowman said. The dreams still come several times a week.