Atlanta police on Tuesday pushed back against a family spokesman’s account of the recent shooting death of business woman Diane McIver, saying the case involving her husband is “more complicated” than has been portrayed.
The police weighed in as the McIver camp provided new details to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about how they say the events unfolded in the unusual shooting which took place in an SUV near Piedmont Park. One key detail: A lawyer for Claud “Tex” McIver said the couple were being driven by a longtime female friend of Diane. He declined to provide her full name.
Bill Crane, a McIver family friend, had told The AJC last week that Diane McIver was riding in the SUV with her husband on Sept. 25 when their car hit a bump and a gun in his lap accidentally fired, killing her.
Diane McIver was taken to Emory University Hospital on Clifton Road where she died in surgery.
McIver’s lawyer, Stephen Maples, told the AJC on Tuesday that he met Tex McIver in a family waiting area at the hospital soon after the 10 p.m. shooting. While he was there, an Emory doctor came to the waiting area and said that Diane McIver had told her twice that the shooting “was an accident,” Maples said. The AJC was not immediately able to reach the doctor.
Authorities have been tight-lipped as they investigate, providing little more than a bare-bones incident report. Crane’s account to the AJC last week had provided the only narrative of what happened that night.
Atlanta Police Sgt. Warren Pickard told the AJC that the case was more complex than has been detailed.
“It is just a little bit more complicated than what I guess the spokesman for his people or her people (said),” Pickard said. “Our investigation is still ongoing.”
Pickard pointed out that Crane, the family spokesman, “wasn’t in the car, so he is not a witness to what happened. We are going to wait and see what all the witnesses have to say.”
Pickard declined to comment on any specifics from Crane’s account and said he would not identify who police have interviewed about the case. But he said: “Sometimes you have to question the person three or four times to get the answer you need. We are going to let those interview sessions lead us in the right direction.”
Crane had told the AJC the incident played out after their vehicle was approached by several individuals near the intersection of Peachtree and Pine streets in Midtown. The McIvers retrieved their gun from the center console of the 2013 Ford Expedition, alarmed about recent unrest surrounding several Black Lives Matter protests in the area and fearing a carjacking, Crane said.
A little over a mile later, the gun went off in Tex McIver’s lap as he was nodding off in the back seat, Crane said.
But on Tuesday, Maples, McIver’s attorney, downplayed the moment when the couple took out the gun. He said that while some individuals were in the street, it was not an adrenalin-filled event. Maples said they pulled out the gun out of caution.
Police are saying little else about the case, including whether they will bring charges against anyone. They have also refused to identify who else was in the vehicle with the McIvers. The police report indicates that authorities had interviewed the driver. Maples said the driver was cooperating with authorities.
Pickard, the police spokesman, said police are declining to identify the driver so as to prevent news reporters from questioning that person and possibly complicating their investigation.
“As soon as I tell you that, the media would be all over it,” he said. “We are going to hold what we have until we come to a conclusion. I hate to be that way with you, but it is important for us to get this right.”
The driver is a key witness in the case, said J. Tom Morgan, DeKalb County’s former district attorney.
Morgan also questioned how Claud McIver could have nodded off with a gun in his lap as Crane outlined in his account.
“If you pull a weapon out and you are worried — with that fight or flight mentality — there is a tremendous adrenalin rush,” said Morgan, who carried a weapon when he was a prosecutor. “I can’t imagine dozing off 10 minutes later.”
Pickard confirmed police have recovered a handgun, but he would not identify its make and model. Crane said it was a .38 snub-nose revolver.
Further, the incident report Atlanta police have released to the public does not say why the driver took Diane McIver to Emory University Hospital, when Piedmont Hospital and Emory Midtown Hospital were closer to the shooting scene.
“I couldn’t answer that,” Pickard said. “I would just say that people tend to do what they are familiar with. If that is a hospital they [have been to] frequently, that might be something they are familiar with.”
Pickard also denied that the McIvers’ high profile is affecting how long authorities are taking in their investigation. A veteran labor and employment lawyer, Claud McIver is the vice chairman of the Georgia State Election Board with deep ties in Republican politics. And his wife was a successful businesswoman whose company, Corey Airport Services, won millions of dollars in a lawsuit against the city of Atlanta alleging favoritism in airport contracts.
“We are taking our time on this one,” Pickard said. “Our investigation is still ongoing.”