Police Chief Lou Deckmar made a public apology, reports CBS Columbus, Georgia affiliate WRBL-TV, this past Thursday for the brutal death of a black man in LaGrange.
Deckmar apologized for the lack of protection that was given to Austin Callaway in 1940 when he was shot to death.
When an investigator told Deckmar, he encountered two elderly black women pointing at a historical picture. “They killed our people a few years ago,” they said.
Back in 1940, Calloway, who was 18 years old at the time, was taken from jail and driven away by a group of armed men. The next day Callaway was found blessed severely from a gunshot sound. He died later that day.
Nearly eight decades later, authorities wanted to officially apologize for the incident.
The apology took place in a Methodist Church where Deckmar told the crowd, “What was done was wrong.”
He apologized for the lack of response from the police department concerning the murder.
“I, on behalf of the Lagrange Police Department and the city of Lagrange, want to acknowledge the police department’s failure to take crucial action in its obligation to protect Austin Callaway on September 8, 1940,” he said. “An acknowledgment and apology is necessary to aid in healing wounds of past brutalities and injustice.”
Callaway’s family was present for the apology, including his cousin, Dr. Glenn Dowell.
“Here comes Lagrange, Georgia, which has previously been kind of an oligarchy, ruled by an oligarchy in the community, changing. It has changed for the best,” Dowell said.
Dowell described the night as emotional.
Deckmar hopes the apology will help to strengthen the trust between the community and its public safety officers.
“This is just one more step that is a significant step, but it’s not the concluding step,” Deckmar remarked to WRBL.
The town’s mayor and other city officials also spoke that night.
The local NAACP chapter announced that Deckmar’s apology was accepted by its members.
The video can be found here.