After three years rebuilding race relations, the Tyler Police Department is glad the truth about a 2003 shooting has finally come out.
25 year old Terence Raibon of Tyler was fatally shot by police, after Raibon shot and wounded an officer who was attempting to stop him. In the aftermath of the shooting four witnesses claimed Officer Billy Yates and Mike Saxion acted with excessive force.
Those same witnesses are now saying they lied to a Smith County grand jury, and that the allegations were untrue.
Yesterday, the police chief told KLTV 7's Lindsay Wilcox he hopes this will put to rest any remaining doubt about what happened that night.
The scene at the Grand Manor apartments in north Tyler was chaotic. Tyler police officer Kenneth Gardner rushed to the hospital for his gunshot wound. The shooter, Terence Raibon was then killed by fellow officers.
Kendrick Williams, Tawakani Jones, Terrance Black and Fleshia Jackson were all around during the shooting. They testified before a grand jury Raibon was already lying on the ground when officers shot him, adding that they kicked Raibon in the head to make sure he was dead.
Police chief Gary Swindle says even in 2003 the department knew the witnesses were lying. He says even still, it caused the officers, their families and the department a lot of grief.
"It does affect you. When you do do your job, you do it right, you do it as you were trained, and yet you're still second guessed or scrutinized," said Swindle.
Now, the four witnesses have all signed affavits changing their testimony.
Tawakani Jones affadavit says, "I know that there were officers present, but I can't say which one shot Terence Raibon, but he was not kicked in the head."
He goes on to say, "I did not see an officer shoot Terence Raibon in the back."
In 2003, Lesly Gatheright, a consultant out of Memphis, was very outspoken about the shooting and the investigation, accusing police of racial motivation.
"I think they jumped to the conclusion that it was alright to use deadly force because of where they were," said Gatheright.
Now, the witnesses say Gaitheright was the one who pressured them to lie to the grand jury.
In his sworn affadavit, Terrance Black says "Mr. Gatheright hounded me, repeatedly coming to my house, and pressured me to make statements to the media about this incident."
Regardless of what their motivation, the department says they are glad the witnesses decided to tell the truth and clear the officers' names once and for all.
We tried contacting Mr. Gaitheright for his comment, but our calls were not returned.
As for the four witnesses, the Smith County DA says they won't be prosecuted because the statute of limitations has run out.