Convicted killer Andrew H. Brannan, who murdered a Georgia sheriff’s deputy 17 years ago, was put to death Tuesday night after attempts for clemency citing his post-traumatic stress disorder developed in combat in Vietnam were denied.
The execution was carried out by lethal injection at 8:33 p.m. at the Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson, Ga. Brannan’s lawyers had filed numerous appeals in recent days asking for clemency and a stay of execution, saying the post-traumatic stress he developed after serving in combat in the Army had crippled him for life.
Brannan, 66, lost his temper with Laurens County Sheriff Deputy Kyle Dinkheller, on Jan. 12, 1998, after driving 100 mph on a country road and getting pulled over by the officer. Brannan left his vehicle and sarcastically prodded Dinkheller to shoot him, screamed that he was a “goddamn Vietnam combat veteran,” and then retrieved a rifle from his pickup truck, according to a police cruiser dashboard camera video later released.
The two men exchanged shots, with Brannan suffering one gunshot wound to the abdomen and Dinkheller getting hit nine times. The graphic video shows Dinkheller, a Laurens County deputy, screaming in terror and pain as Brannan closes in on him and kills him at point-blank range after reloading. It is now used in police training across the country.
The bid for clemency, detailed on Checkpoint on Sunday, comes at a time when Americans are openly debating altercations with police nationwide, and also how post-traumatic stress should be cared for and considered in modern military veterans. Brannan’s fate was hotly debated on social media by veterans and others in recent days.
Brannan lost a bid for clemency with the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday, and with Georgia’s top court and the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday. His lawyers had pleaded for leniency, noting his service to his country.
“Andrew’s combat experience forever altered his personality and his life,” his lawyers said in the most recent petition to the Georgia board. “Although he initially re-entered civilian life, he soon began to manifest signs of serious mental illness, which grew worse over time.”
In a statement, Brannan’s lawyer, Joe Loveland, said that he spoke to Brannan a few hours before his execution and had a message for fellow veterans who had supported him.
“I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them,” Brannan said, according to Loveland.
According to military documents released by Brannan’s legal team, he served as a first lieutenant with the Army in Vietnam from June to December of 1970, working as a forward observer and directing artillery fire to assist nearby infantrymen. He twice stepped in as a company commander when other soldiers were lost.