Columbus police sergeant charged with murder appears in Recorder’s Court
More than a year before he allegedly killed a Columbus paramedic, Sgt. William “Bill” Talley III was at her house armed, intoxicated, suicidal and “experiencing a personal crisis,” according to an initial incident report from the Columbus Police Department.
Talley, 51, is accused of fatally shooting Kelly Levinsohn May 11, 2019 at her 5829 Pratt Avenue home. Details about what exactly happened inside the home that night remain unclear but Talley wound up in the hospital after he wrecked Levinsohn’s truck off Exit 30 of Interstate 185 in Harris County.
He appeared in court May 18 and remains at the Muscogee County Jail where he is segregated from the general jail population as he receives treatment for his injuries. His next court date has not been scheduled.
This month’s incident was not the first one involving Talley at Levinsohn’s home, according to the latest CPD incident reports released to the Ledger-Enquirer through an open records request.
Talley was at Levinsohn’s Pratt Avenue home on March 11, 2018, when Sgt. Raymond Mills and Lt. Kevin Hamer responded to a request from an off-duty officer at the residence, Sgt. Dean Spata.
Mills and Hamer met with Spata who was consoling Talley, according to the report written by Mills.
The report stated earlier in the day, Levinsohn picked up Talley from his house and took him to her Pratt Avenue home.
Talley also texted and called Spata earlier in the day. Talley, according to the report, was “experiencing a personal crisis” and told Spata he was suicidal. Spata reported Talley’s mental state to the department, resulting in Mills and Hamer going to Levinsohn’s home.
Spata was on the couch consoling Talley when Mills and Hamer entered the home. When officers entered, Talley tried to stand. The report stated Talley was “visibly upset and appeared to have been crying for some time.” Talley also “appeared to be intoxicated” as officers could smell alcohol.
Talley had also brought a pistol to Levinsohn’s home — his personal Glock .45 pistol.
Talley then began to get more upset, according to the report. Officers secured Talley in three sets of handcuffs to prevent him from hurting others or himself. Talley struggled with the officers briefly, according to the report.
“Talley was becoming upset and was not in his usual state of mind,” the report reads. “We knew he was suicidal and we knew that there was a firearm in the residence that he had brought there. We wanted to ensure we provided the community care function that Talley needed. We wanted to ensure that Talley did not hurt himself or us. We secured Talley in three sets of handcuffs behind his back. There was a small struggle to get Talley to comply, but we did detain him.”
The officers called for EMS to transport Talley to St. Francis Hospital. Columbus police Sgt. Randy Keil went with Talley to provide support.
Levinsohn spoke with officers on the scene. In documents provided by police, her name is misspelled as “Levinsdan” and “Levinsdhn.” When asked by officers what her relationship was to Talley, Levinsohn told officers twice that she and Talley were just friends.
“I told her I was just trying to understand the scope of the connection, and she stated that they were just friends,” the report reads.
The firearm that Talley brought to Levinsohn’s residence was located in a kitchen cabinet where she had put it, and was logged into property and evidence. The gun was loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition.
Alcohol and sleeping pills
The officers then went to Talley’s residence and spoke with a 47-year-old woman, who Mills said “inquired about ‘Kelly’ and if she was all right.” The woman was unnamed throughout the incident report.
Mills said he did not ask the woman about any relationship between Talley and Levinsohn.
According to the report, officers explained the Pratt Avenue incident and told the woman Talley was currently at St. Francis Hospital being evaluated. They then said they were at the residence to secure and remove a few items.
“These items were his Swat Pistol, Rifle, and his duty firearm along with his police vehicle,” the report reads. Talley’s duty belt and firearm were transported to the police station.
Mills said he spoke with the woman at Talley’s residence and asked her about Talley wanting to commit suicide.
The woman told Mills that Talley had been taking sleeping medication, and that he did not abuse it but that it could “make him do things that he wouldn’t normally do.”
“She further elaborated that he has been consuming alcoholic beverages but not to the point where she believed he was an alcoholic,” Mills said in the report. The woman also reportedly stated that Talley “started with two drinks a day” but she believed he may have “transitioned to a little more.”
She also “elaborated that the morning watch work cycle along with the sleep deprivation that comes with it has also weighed heavily on him,” according to the report.
As a result of the March 2018 incident at Levinsohn’s home, Talley’s supervisors suspended him for violating police department policy related to alcohol use, placed him on administrative leave with pay, effective March 17, 2018, and required him to attend a city “Employee Assistance Program” to determine whether he was fit for duty.
“You will be required to attend as many sessions as deemed necessary,” read a March 16, 2018, memo to Talley from Police Chief Ricky Boren, who instructed Talley to report to a captain in the department’s personnel office no later than 5 p.m. the following March 19.
The memo cited a department policy stating officers on administrative leave “shall not wear the police uniform, carry a duty weapon, operate a police vehicle or work off duty employment involving police or security functions.” It did not indicate the length of time Talley would be on leave.
In a follow-up memo to Talley dated Aug. 15, 2018, Lt. Matt Blackstock of the department’s patrol services bureau detailed the justification for Talley’s one-day suspension without pay, which was set for the following Sept. 10.
Blackstock cited this police department policy:
“No officer shall use alcoholic beverages off-duty to the extent that such use results in the commission of an obnoxious or offensive act to the discredit of the Columbus Police Department, or that such use would render the officer unfit for duty at a given time.”
Blackstock recounted Talley’s actions when he apparently was drunk and had to be restrained the previous March, and added:
“It was also learned that you were at this residence which belonged to Kelly Levinsdan (sic), who was identified as a close friend and witnessed the incident. You were armed with Glock 30, 45 caliber, semi-automatic handgun which was located in the kitchen,” Blackstock wrote.
“This fact, along with your state of mind, your obvious alcohol consumption, your text messages and voice messages indicating you were experiencing a personal crisis with the potential to harm yourself, gave the people close to you, great concern that you were a danger to yourself as well as the public.”
Talley’s assignment with the department’s Special Weapons And Tactics or SWAT team was of particular concern, as he was supposed to be prepared to serve on that team whenever called.
“Your assignment to the SWAT TEAM, which designates you to possibly be called out at any time day or night places you in a group of people that depend on your professionalism and leadership at all times.”
Talley’s intoxication the previous March 11 “placed you unfit for duty at a moment’s notice but you also allowed yourself to become both obnoxious and offensive to others due to your intoxicated condition,” Blackstock added. “You also were scheduled to be in a SWAT TEAM class the following day. Because of this incident, you were not able to attend that class.”
Talley’s employment status with the police department is currently unknown. According to Columbus Human Resources Director Reather Hollowell, Talley currently has a pending personnel action, which she could not elaborate on.
Talley’s defense attorney Jennifer Curry said Wednesday that Talley still was employed with the city.
At Curry’s request, Superior Court Judge Arthur Smith III signed a court order Tuesday to have Talley undergo a psychological evaluation within 90 days at West Central Georgia Regional Hospital in Columbus.
The order employs standard court language for such an evaluation, saying it should determine:
▪ Whether Talley is capable of understanding court proceedings, of comprehending his circumstances, and of assisting his defense attorney.
▪ Whether he could distinguish right from wrong at the time of the incident, or instead was subject to a “delusional compulsion” that overcame him.
▪ Whether he meets criteria for “involuntary inpatient or outpatient commitment” under the law.