Deputy Kyle Dinkheller was a sheriff’s deputy with the Laurens County Sheriff's Office in Georgia, USA.
Dinkheller was nearing the end of his shift on January 12, 1998 when he spotted a small Toyota pickup truck speeding at upwards of 98 mph. As would be expected, he initiated a stop.
When the vehicle stopped, Dinkheller pulled up approximately a car length behind the truck and asked the driver, from afar, to “step back here to me. Come on back here for me. Come on back.” Andrew Brannan, 49, the driver of the truck, then exited his vehicle. There was nothing newsworthy about this. The two men exchanged brief pleasantries, as most are wont to do, with deputy Dinkheller asking him how he was doing.
Brannan replied with, “Pretty good. How you doing?” The trouble began when Dinkheller asked Brannan to, again, come on back and then asked him to keep his hands out of his pockets.
Brannan’s demeanor suddenly changed as he asked “Why?” while heading back toward the driver’s side door to his truck. He stopped in the road, and among other things, exclaimed, “Fuck you, God damn it. Here I am. Shoot my fuckin’ ass!” while doing some form of dancing a quick jig.
Dinkheller tries to get the man to comply while calling in on his radio. Multiple times during this, Brannan sings “Here I am…here I am…here I am.” He then very briefly runs toward Deputy Dinkheller.
The officer then repeatedly tells the man to “get back” while also trying to get backup. Brannan shouts, “Who you callin’, mother fucker?!” as the deputy repeats his demands to get back.
Through repeated attempts to get the man to step back, the man shouts “No” loudly, “Fuck you!” and “I am a God damn Vietnam combat veteran and I am not…” as he is interrupted by another demand to step back.
Presumably now meaning to back away from the truck that Brannan has gone back to and opened the door of, Dinkheller changes his words to “get out of the car!” The surging adrenaline is quite apparent in deputy Dinkheller’s voice.
As Mr. Brannan fumbles around under his vehicle’s front seat for nearly a minute, Dinkheller repeats his commands. Brannan then begins to emerge to proclaim his rights, when the deputy, likewise, says he’s within his own rights and repeats, yet again, to “Get back here, now!” Brannan simply shouts “No!” then Dinkheller spots Brannan’s gun, an M1 carbine. This was among standard issue weapons for Vietnam combat. Dinkheller shouts for him to put it down.
Dinkheller immediately gets on the radio, now obviously fearing for his safety, and shouts, “[inaudible], I’ve got a man with a gun! I need help!” before ordering Brannan to put the gun down. Brannan is still in his vehicle’s doorway at this time and continues to shout things that we, the viewer, can’t quite make out.
Repeated attempts to get Mr. Brannan to put his gun down are met with futility.
Brannan then crouches as if acting out a combat scenario, apparently points it in Dinkheller’s direction, and then a shot is heard. It is believed this is Dinkheller firing the first shot.
Andrew Brannan then returns fire as we then see a crack in the windshield in front of Deputy Dinkheller’s dashcam.
Multiple shots are fired by both men. At times, it’s hard to tell which is coming from which man.
Brannan then moves to the rear of his vehicle and around to the passenger side of Dinkheller’s squad car. At this time, we hear the unsettling scream of the deputy. Both men are out of the camera’s view.
There is a brief lull in the chaos as we hear Dinkheller breathing hard. Brannan then comes into frame and begins reloading his weapon. A few moments later, he backs to the passenger side of his own vehicle, crouches down, and gets a shot leveled at him.
All this does is cause Brannan to duck for a second. He then immediately stands up and heads around to the driver’s side of Dinkheller’s car where the deputy is. We then hear another scream from him.
There are multiple, multiple shots ringing out as Dinkheller’s screams become more prolonged and more blood-curdling.
Brannan is not letting up as he fires shot after shot at the now terrified and injured deputy. It’s unclear whether these are screams of fear or of pain, but I’d wager both. Brannan does receive a shot to his stomach, but still delivers two more shots. He’s aiming for areas outside of the protection of the deputy’s protective vest.
Brannan’s last shot occurs just under a minute after the first shot rang out – the last being to deputy Dinkheller’s head. We then only hear moans.
As Brannan gets into his truck for the final time, he closes the door and drives off. Right then, we begin to hear the final breaths of the slain officer. What we hear is often called the death rattle; the unmistakable dying breaths of a person, comparable to snoring…but labored and increasing in intensity while simultaneously lowering in pitch.
It has been said the deputy was hit “at least 3 times” and “at least ten times” with the .30-caliber weapon. I haven’t been able to verify which is the case.
Andrew Brannan was found and arrested without incident the following morning. He was found guilty of murder on January 28, 2000. He was sentenced to death and was scheduled for execution to be carried out in May of 2003. He was granted a stay as his appeals process labored on.
He remains on death row to this day.
Deputy Kyle Dinkheller was married with one child and one on the way.
The Murder of Deputy Kyle Dinkheller
Deputy Kyle Dinkheller was a sheriff’s deputy with the Laurens County Sheriff's Office in Georgia, USA. Dinkheller was nearing the end of his...