While the legal system may have failed to protect John Edward Hall, former Glynn County Police Chief John Powell and the police department itself are not legally liable for his 2018 shooting death at the hands of an unhinged county police officer, a state court judge has ruled.

Ware County State Court Judge Douglas Gibson, who was sitting by designation for the case, dismissed a lawsuit on Oct. 8 that was filed in June by Joanna Hall, the widow of John Hall.

Suspended Glynn County Police Lt. Robert “Cory” Sasser shot and killed his estranged wife and John Hall on June 28 outside Hall’s McIntosh County home. The troubled officer with a history of disciplinary action then led county police officers on a slow speed pursuit to his home in western Glynn County, where he shot himself dead in his driveway.

Joanna Hall filed a lawsuit in June, asserting Powell and the police department overlooked numerous warning signs that Sasser intended to kill Hall and Kettles. This included threats Sasser made against the two during a confrontation in May 2018 at Kettles’ Glynn County apartment, during which county police officers were present. It also included a confrontation at a restaurant two days before the shooting in which Sasser pointed his finger at the two as if it were a gun, Joanna Hall’s lawsuit noted.

The lawsuit demanded a jury trial to determine damages.

“Assuming all of the facts in the complaint to be true, it is apparent John Hall was failed by the legal system repeatedly leading to his foreseeable death,” Gibson wrote in his motion to dismiss. However, representatives for Powell and the police department cited legal precedents that they are not liable for Hall’s death, Gibson noted.

Representatives for Hall failed to rebut the legal exemptions, Gibson said.

“The Glynn County Police Department has cited several legal reasons that it is not subject to a claim as a result of John Hall’s death,” Gibson wrote. “The plaintiffs have responded but have not brought to the court’s attention any law that conflicts with the law cited by the Glynn County Police Department.

“The court has not found any law that calls into question the law cited by the Glynn County Police Department.”

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