Elmer “Buddy” Christian, a Senior Police Officer in Athens-Clarke County, was not only a dedicated law enforcement professional but also a beloved husband and father of two. He was highly respected in the community and cherished as a son. He lost his life in the line of duty in March 2011. The profound grief of Buddy’s family and friends resonated throughout the community, prompting a collective effort to bring his assailant to justice. ‘Evil Lives Here: Shadows of Death Negotiating With a Killer’ meticulously explores the details of the case, unraveling the circumstances that led to the killing of Officer Buddy Christian.
Elmer “Buddy” Christian was Killed in the Line of Duty
Born in July 1976, Elmer Basco “Buddy” Christian III, hailed from Athens, Georgia. Over the years, he cultivated a fulfilling life for himself. Married to Melissa Christian-Griffeth, the couple was blessed with two children, an older daughter named Callie and a son. Committing himself to serving the community, Buddy joined the police force and he was also a volunteer fireman. Recognized for his gentle demeanor, Officer Christian was known to be a loyal and dedicated professional, striving to do his best each day for both his work and the people he served.
In 2011, Buddy had risen to the rank of Senior Police Officer. On March 22, 2011, he received a report that one of his colleagues, Senior Police Officer Tony Howard, had been shot and wounded while pursuing a suspect involved in a carjacking and kidnapping case. Buddy rushed to the scene to assist his co-worker. During this intervention, he was shot and succumbed to his injuries immediately.
Elmer “Buddy” Christian’s Killer Had a Prior Record
The suspect in Elmer “Buddy” Christian’s case fled the scene, and it took the police three days to apprehend him. The perpetrator was identified as Jamie Donnell Hood, and as the investigation unfolded, the circumstances surrounding Buddy’s death began to take shape. Hood had a prior history of incarceration in connection to an armed robbery case. During his time in jail, he established connections with a drug dealer from the Atlanta metro area. Hood asserted that after his release from prison, he struggled to secure employment and turned to the drug trade to support himself.
Brooks mentioned that he facilitated the introduction between his Atlanta connection and two individuals from Athens, Judon Brooks and Kenyatta Campbell. This arrangement allowed him to receive a portion of the profits generated from each drug sale. As part of his compensation, Hood also acquired a Cadillac. However, the terms of their agreement soured rapidly, leading both parties to pursue independent business ventures and sidelining Hood from the transactions altogether.
Hood confessed to shooting and killing Kenneth Omari Wray in December 2010 as a message to Brooks and Campbell. In March 2011, to increase pressure on Brooks, Hood kidnapped him and confined him to the car trunk. During this ordeal, Brooks successfully escaped from the trunk and promptly reported the kidnapping to the police. On March 22, 2011, Senior Police Officer Tony Howard pulled over a vehicle he recognized as belonging to Hood’s cousin, intending to question him about Hood’s whereabouts.
Hood asserted that upon seeing him, Howard attempted to reach through the car window to apprehend him. Fearing for his life and recalling his brother Timothy’s fatal encounter with the police in 2001, Hood, being a Black man, felt threatened. In what he believed to be his only means of escape, Hood shot Howard in the face and chest.
At that moment, Buddy arrived at the scene and witnessed Hood shooting Howard, who was gravely injured. In an attempt to escape, Hood shot Christian as well, asserting that he did not want to do it but felt compelled. However, forensic reports contradicted Hood’s claim, stating that both officers were shot at close range and had not drawn their handguns from their holsters at the time of the attack.
Jamie Donnell Hood is Serving a Life Sentence Today
Jamie Donnell Hood’s trial commenced in 2015, during which he dismissed two sets of defense attorneys provided by the state, both of whom had advised him to consider a plea deal. In his defense, Hood recounted the murder of his brother and argued that he perceived an imminent threat, portraying himself as a victim of a corrupt system. Nevertheless, the jury found him guilty on charges related to the murder of Elmer “Buddy” Christian and the 2010 killing of Kenneth Omari Wray. He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Senior Police Officer Tony Howard and the kidnapping of Judon Brooks with bodily injury.
Hood received a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the murder of Buddy, and for the murder of Wray, he was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole. Despite the death penalty being considered, the jury opted against it. Hood faced convictions on various additional charges, leading to additional sentences. He appealed against the murder convictions, citing errors, but the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the previous convictions. At present, Hood, aged 46, is serving his sentence at Hancock State Prison in Georgia, ensuring he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.