Stacey Cotton.jpg

Stacey Cotton

COVINGTON — The Covington Police Department is seeking to quell unfounded rumors that a recent shooting death at the Super 8 hotel on Alcovy Road was racially motivated.

On May 27, police said a number of people were at a party in one of the hotel rooms, drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, when Terry Yates, 30, allegedly shot and killed Nijee Anderson with a handgun.

Covington Police Chief Stacey Cotton issued a statement Tuesday evening indicating that detectives initially believed Yates, whom he described an an acquaintance of Anderson’s, had accidentally shot the victim and warrants were taken charging Yates with felony involuntary manslaughter. However, during arraignment, the judge determined the wording of the arrest warrant was inconsistent with the evidence presented at the arraignment hearing, and Yates was released.

Cotton said Yates was out of custody less than 24 hours before police were able to gather more evidence and re-arrest him on the more serious charge of felony murder.

“It is clear from the investigation that this shooting was not accidental but also not motivated by race,” Cotton said in his released statement.

Yates remains in the Newton County Detention Center. Cotton asks that anyone with further information that could assist in the investigation contact the Covington Police Department.

The full text of Chief Cotton’s statement appears below:

There has been some false information circulating about the recent homicide that occurred on May 27, 2020 at the Super 8 hotel located at 10130 Alcovy Road, Covington, Georgia. On that date at approximately 9:18pm several people were attending a party being held in room 250. All participants were friends and acquaintances and were engaged in the consumption of alcoholic beverages and marijuana. During this party the suspect Terry Yates produced a handgun and shot Mr. Nijee Anderson resulting in his death.

Initial statements at first pointed to an accidental shooting and the careless handling of the firearm. An arrest of Terry Yates was made at the time and warrants were taken for Felony Involuntary Manslaughter. During the arraignment of Mr. Yates the judge determined the words contained in the arrest warrant were not consistent with the evidence presented at the arraignment and the subject was released.

The Covington Police Department Detectives then re-interviewed the suspect, Terry Yates and gained another statement which again concluded that he did take the life of the victim Nijee Anderson. All witnesses were again interviewed and additional evidence about the events surrounding the death of Mr. Anderson were consistent to the physical evidence and previous statements. These new statements described in better detail that the actions of the suspect, Terry Yates, were intentional.

It has been rumored that this tragic event was racially motivated. During the course of the investigation no information was received by the Covington Police Department to lead our detectives to believe this was true. In fact, all of the witnesses, who were white gave a more detailed accounting of what truly occurred and strengthened the case against the suspect. Without their concern for giving justice to the victim I don’t believe they would have cooperated as completely as they did. Their statements along with the suspects own statements allowed the Covington Police Department Detectives to obtain new warrants and arrested Terry Yates for Felony Murder. Terry Yates was out of jail less than 24 hours total before being re-arrested on a more serious charge of Felony Murder. It is clear from the investigation that this shooting was not accidental but also not motivated by race.

As always, the Covington Police remains committed to victims’ rights and understanding the loss of a loved one. We have briefed Mr. Anderson’s family on the details of the investigation as they stand today and will remain in contact with them to assist them as the case moves forward.

Although the suspect is arrested and remains in the Newton County Jail if you know of any further information that could assist the Covington Police Department in this investigation please do not hesitate to call.

Stacey L. Cotton

Chief of Police

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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