For second time, 911 caller in fatal Walker County police shooting faces charge

Dorothy Marie Gass

UPDATE: Dorothy Marie Gass has not yet been arrested in relation to the new charges against her in Walker County. She was supposed to appear in Dade County Superior Court today for a separate arrest from April, when police charged her with driving under the influence and possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance.

GBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Ramey said Gass' attorney informed the judge that Gass is in the hospital right now.

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Three and a half months after a judge unexpectedly dismissed a case against her, the woman whose 911 call triggered a fatal police shooting in Rossville, Georgia, faces a new criminal case.

A Walker County grand jury indicted Dorothy Marie Gass on Tuesday, charging her with false statements, writings and concealing of facts, a felony. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation accused Gass of making up a story about her son's estranged wife in the midst of a custody battle.

Around 3 a.m. on New Year's Day, Gass told a 911 dispatcher that her daughter-in-law, Amy Gass, threatened to kill her children and herself. The GBI now says there is no evidence that Amy Gass ever made these threats. But at the time, Walker County Sheriff's Office deputies showed up to a home in Rossville on high alert and fatally shot Amy Gass' father, Mark Parkinson, who was armed in the kitchen.

photo Dorothy Marie Gass

"This is just the first step for the justice that is demanded," said Stephen Fuller, an attorney representing Diana Parkinson, Mark Parkinson's widow.

In February, the GBI charged Dorothy Gass with making a false report, a misdemeanor. The case went to Walker County State Court, which handles lower level offenses. She was scheduled for a court date in June. Before the hearing, GBI Special Agent in Charge Greg Ramey said he wrote a letter to State Court Judge Billy Mullinax, asking him to push back the court date because the case's lead investigator was out of town.

Ramey said he didn't hear back from Mullinax. Nevertheless, the judge kept the court date the same. When Dorothy Gass showed up and there was no law enforcement to present a case against her, Mullinax dismissed the charge.

In August, she told the Times Free Press that was the proper outcome of her case.

"There was nothing to it," she said. "Not to me. But I sure was flashed all over the TV for a month. It kind of ruined my reputation, and I didn't even do anything."

Asked about the case, Mullinax said he couldn't remember it. Neither did State Court Solicitor Pat Clements. Robert Stultz, a Fort Oglethorpe attorney who sometimes fills in for Clements, said he didn't handle the Dorothy Gass case, either.

Jason Thompson, an attorney representing Diana Parkinson, said at the time, "That's a small county. I have friends across the state who know about this case. For them to say, 'What's that? I don't know what that is.' That's a load of crap."

The state court officials could have brought the misdemeanor case back up, except for one complicating factor. At the end of August, attorney Chris Townley took over the solicitor job from Clements. Townley's former law partner happens to represent Dorothy Gass' son in his divorce from Amy Gass.

Townley said his presence in the case, even in the slightest form, is a conflict of interest. He could not touch the file to reopen it and appoint an outside prosecutor.

Thus, the case would need to go to Superior Court, falling under Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit District Attorney Herbert "Buzz" Franklin's purview.

The origins of the case date back to September 2017, when Amy Gass filed for divorce from Dorothy Gass' son, Steven Gass. The estranged husband and wife were in a dispute over custody.

Around 2:30 a.m. on New Year's Day, according to phone records, Steven and Dorothy Gass talked for about 15 minutes. Soon after, Dorothy Gass called 911, reporting that she received a threatening message from Amy Gass. Supposedly, Amy Gass threatened to kill her children and herself.

Walker County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to Meadowview Drive in Rossville, where Amy Gass and her children lived with her parents. When they arrived around 3 a.m., dogs inside began to bark. Amy Gass' father, Mark Parkinson, walked out of his bedroom with a gun, trying to figure out why the dogs were so alert.

He flipped the switch in his kitchen, which contains a big window overlooking the front porch. That's where the deputies stood. Mark Parkinson would not be able to see outside in those conditions. But on the porch, Deputy John Chandler saw a man with a gun.

During an internal affairs investigation, Chandler said he ducked and warned the two other law enforcement officers about the man inside. Seconds later, Chandler peaked into the window again and still saw Parkinson with the gun. Chandler fired three shots, killing Parkinson.

The internal affairs investigation cleared Chandler, and a grand jury ruled in September that he did not use excessive force. After the latter ruling, Diana Parkinson expressed frustration that nobody seemed to get punished as a result of her husband's death.

"It makes you feel defeated and mad and more determined than ever to bring it to civil court and get something done the correct way," she said from a ship off St. Thomas. "They won't get the best of me."

Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or tjett@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.