Crime

Police sergeant charged in paramedic’s fatal shooting makes first appearance in court

Columbus police sergeant charged with murder appears in Recorder’s Court

William “Bill” Talley III,51, a sergeant with the Columbus Police Department, appeared in Columbus Recorder’s Court Saturday alongside his defense attorney Jennifer Curry. Talley has been charged with murder in the death of Kelly Levinsohn.
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William “Bill” Talley III,51, a sergeant with the Columbus Police Department, appeared in Columbus Recorder’s Court Saturday alongside his defense attorney Jennifer Curry. Talley has been charged with murder in the death of Kelly Levinsohn.

Deputies securing the courtroom outnumbered the audience Saturday as Columbus Police Sgt. William “Bill” Talley III faced charges in the May 11 fatal shooting of local paramedic Kelly Levinsohn.

Talley’s defense attorney Jennifer Curry entered a not guilty plea on his behalf and waived the hearing, so Recorder’s Court Judge Robert Wadkins Sr. heard no testimony before sending the case to Muscogee Superior Court, ordering Talley held without bond on the murder charge.

Talley, 51, is charged also with using a gun to commit a crime and violating his oath as a police officer.

“Our goal today really was to protect families on both sides, especially Mr. Talley’s children,” Curry said afterward. “They didn’t ask for this, so I’m trying to respect their privacy.”

Talley has two teenaged daughters, and his wife Rebecca Talley hired her to represent him, Curry said.

Rebecca Talley was among six people, excluding reporters, in the courtroom for Saturday’s hearing, where eight deputies stood around the injured officer, who spoke only to tell Wadkins he understood his constitutional rights.

Authorities allege that after shooting Levinsohn at her Pratt Avenue home, Talley took her truck and drove to Harris County, where he was injured wrecking off Interstate 185 at Exit 30.

He was hospitalized until Thursday, when he was released from Piedmont Columbus Regional and booked into the Muscogee County Jail, where Curry said he is segregated from the general jail population as he continues getting treatment for his injuries.

Because Talley has been a police officer since July 2002, his safety would be at risk were he confined with other inmates he helped put in jail, Curry said.

Though Talley still is married, and investigators said Levinsohn’s death resulted from a “domestic” situation, no one publicly has said he and Levinsohn had a romantic relationship.

“I can’t comment on that,” Curry said Saturday. “Again, my goal today was to protect his two daughters…. I’m hoping that both families have time to understand what happened, and come to terms with where we’re at now.”

Police have been summoned to Levinsohn’s 5829 Pratt Ave. home before, because of Talley, records show.

Personnel records the Ledger-Enquirer obtained Friday through an open records request revealed officers called to Levinsohn’s home at 7:41 p.m. March 11, 2018, had to handcuff Talley to “calm him down” after he’d consumed too much alcohol.

“Sergeant Talley used alcohol off duty to the extent that such use rendered him unfit for duty at a given time,” read a personnel “action report” dated Aug. 15, 2018. “The incident required the attention of two on-duty supervisors. Talley had to be placed in handcuffs due to a brief struggle while officers attempted to calm him down and speak with him about his personal issues.”

He was disciplined with a one-day suspension without pay, the report said.

“I can’t say anything about that,” Curry said when asked about the incident. Asked whether Talley had issues with alcohol, she said, “I won’t comment on that.”

She said Talley remained on leave without pay. “That’s the last I was told,” she added.

She has spoken with her client, but still has more investigation to do to learn the circumstances of Levinsohn’s death and Talley’s arrest, she said.

Eventually she will ask a Superior Court judge to set a bond, so he can be released pending trial – if he can afford the bond.

That’s doubtful, his attorney said.

“Of course I will seek a bond, but as we know in this county … it probably will not be a bond that my client will be able to make.”

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