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Community leaders express relief

Members of Columbus Council and community leaders expressed some relief Tuesday after an agreement was reached in the Kenneth Walker shooting case.

"I'm walking on clouds now," Councilor Jerry Pops Barnes said after the decision at Tuesday's weekly meeting.

He was among the eight councilors present who agreed to settle the case almost five years after the shooting. Councilor Gary Allen and Glenn Davis were absent.

Walker was a passenger in an SUV when it was stopped Dec. 10, 2003, on Interstate 185 as part of a drug investigation in Columbus. Walker, who was married and the father of a daughter, was shot to death by a Muscogee County sheriff's deputy. No drugs or weapons were found in the vehicle.

Councilor Evelyn "Mimi" Woodson said the case should have been settled a long time ago. "It's a long time coming," she said.

The Rev. William B. Howell, president of the Operation Push Coalition, said he expected some action in the Walker case after being briefed on preliminary developments last week. The decision will restore some trust and respect of harmonious domestic conclusion to the community, he said. "It also restores faith in the justice system," Howell said.

"I'm happy and this in some way brings some conclusion after a long chapter," said Howell who was in the council chambers during the announcement. "May the end of this saga bring peace and tranquility to the Walker family. It's been a long road."

Ken Hodges, a Dougherty County District Attorney who was assigned the criminal case in Columbus, said he was delighted the city has come to a civil settlement. "What happened was tragedy," Hodges said from Atlanta.

"I'm glad it finally worked out," Hodges said. "Cheryl Walker and her child need somebody to provide for them fianancially. With Kenny's death that couldn't not happen."

When Hodges was involved in the case, he said he met with some private citizens in early 2004 about some settlement in the case. "I mentioned it to the family and their attorney was not receptive then," he said.

Hodges said he hopes it's possible for some good to come out of the case. "It certainly took a long time to get here. I know it was painful for many."