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‘Just cold-blooded murder’: DA speaks out as Sgt. Nick Risner’s alleged killer appears for hearing

For the first time ever, dash-cam video of the police chase was shown publicly in court.

Posted: Dec 3, 2021 4:41 PM
Updated: Dec 3, 2021 7:22 PM

Inside a Colbert County courtroom Friday, state investigators and prosecutors presented more than two hours of testimony building the case against Brian Martin, the man accused of fatally shooting Sheffield police Sgt. Nick Risner and killing another man that same day.

District Attorney Bryce Graham presented three witnesses during the preliminary hearing Friday.

Brian Martin entering the Colbert County Courthouse for his preliminary hearing Dec.3

For the first time ever, dash-cam video of the chase through the city streets before Risner’s PIT maneuver ended it and gunfire erupted was shown publicly in court.

In the video, prosecutors pointed to Martin shooting out of the front of the truck he was driving, and investigators said he fired before Risner could even get his weapon from the holster. 

State investigators testified that one 45 caliber shell casing and 17 from a 9 millimeter gun were found inside Martin’s truck. They allege the 45 handgun and the 9 millimeter were both owned by William Mealback Jr.

In court, investigators said they believe Martin shot Mealback, a man Martin called his "father," in the head while the two were in a fight inside Mealback's truck. Martin then is accused of dumping Mealback's body on the road. That incident was witnessed by at least four bystanders.

The incident sparked the eventual chase with Martin and multiple law enforcement officers from at least three departments through the streets of Muscle Shoals. The chase ended when Risner used a PIT maneuver near the back of the Walmart parking lot. Seconds later, gunfire erupted.

Martin was struck on the left side of his body. Risner was hit twice, in the neck and just outside of his protective vest in his chest area.

Lt. Max Dotson was struck twice in his vest. Another officer missed being hit by a shot that went through the front windshield of his patrol vehicle and struck just inches from his headrest. 

"Just cold-blooded murder, started shooting and killing police, when they stopped him he opened fire on them," District Attorney Bryce Graham said Friday following the hearing. "I mean it’s just senseless. Two people dead over this for no reason at all.”

Graham also responded in court to the defense team's questions about Martin's previous and current statements about Graham and others being quote "after him." Some of those conversations have been recorded and obtained by investigators as Martin spoke on the phone to the woman described to be the common law wife of Mealback and Martin's self described "mother."

The question of mental health was raised during the preliminary hearing, but the judge quickly ended a back and forth between the defense and prosecutor in open court saying it had no bearing on the proceedings happening Friday.

“I can’t speculate to what’s going on in Mr. Martin’s head. I heard a lot of things like I am controlling gangs and had them after him, but then again you never know what somebody is up to. I don’t know how to comment on it because my job is to present the evidence and secure a conviction if we can," Graham added.

ALEA investigators are still working on the case. The DA is in the process of collecting all of the discovery to turn over to the defense, which recently was allowed to hire a private investigator to aid in their case.

Martin will remain without bond inside the Morgan County Jail.

The Grand Jury is expected to meet early 2022.

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