Family Honors ACCPD, GBI, and PARMC

Friday, October 15th, 2021

At a ceremony on September 5th, Carmen and Dean Dabney honored the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with donations for their combined efforts in the case of UGA student Tate Prezzano. Carmen and Dean Dabney are the mother and step-father of Prezzano, who was shot on April 22nd while waiting on a bus on South Milledge Avenue. For her 50th birthday, Carmen Dabney asked for donations to honor their collaborative efforts.

“You’ve changed our world,” said Carmen Dabney to representatives of the three organizations. “I wanted to honor you and the work that you do. The (donation) will never, ever amount to the work that you did that day, and the love that you shared, and the collaboration with each other. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts."

Philip Haymore, manager of Piedmont Athens Regional’s intensive care unit (ICU) was honored with a gift in his name to Piedmont Athens Regional Foundation. Haymore was on his way to work when he stopped and provided life-saving care to Prezzano shortly after the shooting.

“I happened to be at the right place at the right time that morning and am thankful that I was able to offer assistance to Tate as we waited for an ambulance to arrive,” Haymore said. “It’s amazing to see him standing here today, and I’m so grateful he’s made a full recovery.”

According to Haymore, the Dabney’s donation will go towards making improvements in the ICU to ensure patients receive the best care during their stay. He also remained close with Prezzano’s family while Prezzano was recovering in the hospital’s ICU.

Members of the law enforcement community at the local, state, and federal level combined resources during the investigation, identifying and apprehending a suspect in less than 24 hours. At the ACCPD, every department, including Patrol, Forensics, Records, Communications, and our Criminal Investigations Bureau, acted in concert to identify and apprehend a suspect. Key in the investigation was the assistance of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and their Forensic Artist, Kelly Lawson.

The Dabney’s donation to the GBI, given in the names of Mike Ayers and Kelly Lawson, was accepted by the Athens-Clarke Police Foundation. Mike Ayers, former GBI Special Agent in Charge-Athens, who led GBI’s efforts in the case, thanked all the collaborating agencies, Lawson, and the community for assisting in the apprehension of the suspect. “This is a good example of what happens when people work together. Very early in the investigation we reached out for the community’s help in this case and we got it, quickly, largely because of a fantastic sketch done by Ms. Lawson,” said Ayers. “I also thank the community at large because it was the community that solved this case for us."

Lawson, a six-year veteran of the GBI, was happy her sketch made a difference saying, “You often go through life in this line of work and you don’t get to see the end result of your efforts. In this case, I did get to see the results and it’s a very fulfilling, very encouraging experience."

ACCPD Chief of Police Cleveland Spruill, Detective Paul Johnson and members of the Criminal Investigations Bureau were honored with a donation in their names to the AthensClarke Police Foundation. Spruill acknowledged the collective efforts of the entire police department. “I could not have been blessed with a more capable, more talented, more caring group of individuals that were willing to give their all to do whatever was necessary to bring this individual, who was responsible for the shooting, to justice,” said Spruill. Speaking to the family, Spruill ended his remarks saying, “Your words alone are thanks enough for us."

(The Athens-Clarke Police Foundation, represented by board member Joel Gregory, accepted the donations on behalf of the GBI and ACCPD. The Athens-Clarke Police Foundation works with the ACCPD to sponsor programs to improve police-community relations.) Photos are available upon request.