Testimony Ongoing in Jonathan Ayers Civil Trial

Testimony in the civil trial in the 2009 shooting death of Lavonia pastor the Rev. Jonathan Ayers is expected to continue today.

Tuesday, Chance Oxner took the stand in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.

He was one of the agents with the Mountain Judicial Circuit N.C.I.S. Drug Team involved in the September 2009 incident at a Toccoa gas station in which the Rev. Ayers was shot and later died from his injuries.

On the stand, Oxner testified about the events of that day up to and including when the Rev. Ayers was shot by Agent Billy Shane Harrison.

Oxner said that agents’ attention was drawn to the Rev. Ayers after agents saw him talk with Kayla Barrett, a woman that Oxner says he was making an undercover drug buy from as part of an investigation that began in July 2009.

While on the stand, Oxner also testified that when agents attempted to stop the Rev. Ayers’ vehicle in the gas station on September 1, 2009, it was to question him about why he was seen giving $20 to Barrett, who Oxner called “a known drug dealer and prostitute,” earlier that day.

Oxner testified that he heard Agent Harrison identify himself as police to the Rev. Ayers when he approached the pastor’s vehicle in the gas station parking lot, calling the events that then occurred in the gas station parking lot “very chaotic.”

However, attorneys for the Rev. Ayers’ widow got Oxner to testify that the officers were in plain clothes and that Oxner did not have any identification on him as a police officer when he exited the drug team’s vehicle.

Also, Oxner testified under questioning from her attorneys that he put himself in harm’s way by getting out of the drug team’s vehicle when the Rev. Ayers began to attempt to pull away from the gas station, going against procedure.

The civil trial over the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Rev. Ayers’ widow began with jury selection and opening statements on Monday.

Her lawsuit has made claims of false arrest, assault and battery, and excessive force against Officer Harrison in connection to the death of her husband.

She is seeking at least $5 million in damages