The Shocking Story of Vet Matt Poer’s Taser Death in Elbert County

The Shocking Story of Vet Matt Poer’s Taser Death in Elbert County

By Alan Prendergast
December 11, 2018

Elaine Holt knows that the story sounds strange. It was stranger still, she says, to watch the whole sorry business unfold outside her home: The man in her yard, looking for people who didn’t exist, then wandering off and shouting. The distant gunshots. The sheriff’s deputies carrying the man away, the life ebbing out of him.

You can talk all you want about proper police procedure, reasonable use of force, de-escalation training, and so on. But it comes down to this: The man, a combat veteran and certified war hero, needed help. Holt knew it. The man knew it. A neighbor supposedly heard him say as much, standing in a field with his arms raised and addressing the arriving sheriff’s officers: “I’m a vet. I’m a vet. I need help.”

Whether the deputies heard him, whether the exchange even happened that way, remains unclear. This is what Elaine Holt knows: Christopher Matthew Poer called the police for assistance in a moment of crisis, and their response cost him his life.

Poer, known to his friends as Matt, had seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan as a staff sergeant of the 5th Special Forces Group. The 46-year-old ex-Green Beret paid dearly for his service, both in body and spirit. Surgery for his active-duty injuries resulted in infections and other complications, damaging his heart, lungs and kidneys. The horror of what he’d experienced left him battling anxiety, depression and other symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. “If I crash, tell the doc I suffer from pulmonary edema, acute respiratory failure and heart failure,” he texted to Holt the day before his death. “Also a healthy dose of alcoholism.”