‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades:’ Final statement of ‘PTSD’ Army officer who apologized to victims’ family before he was executed for killing cop
A former Vietnam Army officer who blamed his PTSD for driving him to kill a cop spoke of his pride that he served his country before he was executed in Georgia last night.
Andrew Howard Brannan, 66, was given a lethal injection by authorities and died in prison in the city of Jackson after his appeals for clemency were denied.
He was executed for the 1998 murder of sheriff’s deputy Kyle Dinkheller, 22, whom he shot nine times with a high-powered rifle after a traffic stop in Dudley, Georgia.
Lawyers argued that Brannan’s combat experiences caused his mental illness and drove him to kill – but neither the Supreme Court of Georgia nor the United States Supreme Court stayed his execution.
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Andrew Brannan, 66, pictured in a recent mugshot, was found guilty in 2000 of murdering 22-year-old sheriff’s deputy Kyle Dinkheller (right)
He was pronounced dead at 8.33pm Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison.
In a prepared statement given to his lawyers, he said: ‘I am proud to have been able to walk point for my comrades, and pray that the same thing does not happen to any of them.’
In his official last statement, moments before the injection was administered, Brannan said: ‘I extend my condolences to the Dinkheller family, especially Kyle’s parents and his wife and his two children.’
Before the execution, Brannan received visitors including five family members, a friend and a pastor, ate a last meal of eggs, biscuits and gravy and waffles, and recorded a final statement.
He had been convicted in the 1998 slaying of 22-year-old Laurens County sheriff’s deputy Kyle Dinkheller, a married father of a young daughter.
Brennan, shown left during the Vietnam War, killed Dinkheller (right) in 1998
A statement from the Georgia Department of Corrections last week detailed Brannan’s requested final meal.
It said: ‘Brannan requested a last meal consisting of three eggs over easy, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, sausage, pecan waffles with strawberries, milk, apple juice, and decaffeinated coffee.’
Dinkheller stopped Brannan after he was caught on January 12, 1998 driving at 98mph. The officer demanded he take his hands from his pockets after he pulled him over on a rural road.
Brannan, who was 49 years old at the time, then began cursing, dancing in the street and saying ‘shoot me’ before he grabbed a gun, rushed at the deputy and shot him nine times while he attempted to call for backup.
Lawyers for the Vietnam veteran said the shooting was tied to mental illness that can be traced directly to his military service and argued he should be spared execution – but lost their 11th hour appeal on Monday.
In a statement to CBS, Brannan’s family said they were ‘profoundly disappointed’ that the appeals to save his life had failed.
Through his lawyers, they said that ‘[t]he death of Deputy Sheriff Kyle Dinkheller was a terrible tragedy.
‘Executing a 66-year old decorated Vietnam veteran with no prior criminal record who was seriously ill at the time of the crime only compounds the tragedy.’
According to the convict’s lawyers, Brannan was diagnosed in 1991 as being ‘100-per cent disabled’ by PTSD. Five years later, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder disorder, according to CBS.
At the time of the shooting, the veteran was not on any medication, his current lawyers said, blaming his previous legal team for not making more of his mental history at his trial where a plea of insanity was rejected by the jury.
The horrifying moment that Brannan shot dead the officer was caught on his patrol car’s dashcam.
On the tape, Dinkheller pulled Brannan’s truck over for speeding in Laurens County, Georgia around 5.30pm.
Officer Dinkheller repeatedly asked the suspect to remove his hand from his pockets – in response, Brannan danced around and sang, appearing to mock the deputy.
The 66-year-old then cursed and yelled at the deputy and proclaimed that he was a ‘goddamn Vietnam combat veteran’.
The suspect then ducked inside his pickup truck, pulled out a M-1 carbine rifle and began firing at the deputy.
The two men exchanged shots, leaving Brannan with a wound to the abdomen while Dinkheller was shot nine times.
Dinkheller can be heard screaming on the dashcam tape as Brannan closed in on him and delivered one last shot at point-blank range before yelling: ‘die f*****’.
In a sickening image from the patrol car dashcam, the suspect can be seen sneaking around the car with his rifle to where the officer lay injured and firing again
Deputy Dinkheller was gunned down by Brannan in 1998 after he pulled the man over for speeding
The two exchanged shots and Brannan suffered a wound to the abdomen while Dinkheller was shot nine times, during the incident caught on the officer’s dashcam
The suspect was found during a search the next morning and taken into custody.
Officer Dinkheller left behind an expectant wife and 22-month-old daughter when he died on January 12, 1998. Deputy Dinkheller’s son was born in early September 1998.
Earlier this month, the fallen officer’s father, Kirk Dinkheller, wrote on Facebook: ‘January 12, 2015 it will be 17 years since my son Kyle was murdered in the line of duty and on January 13, 2015 his killer will finally be held accountable.
‘Nothing will ever bring my son back, but finally some justice for the one who took him from his children and his family.’
At his 2000 trial, Brannan, who had no prior criminal record, pleaded guilty by reason of insanity.
However a court-appointed psychiatrist said Brannan was in his right mind when he killed Dinkheller.
The psychiatrist also said Brannan may have killed the 22-year-old officer because he felt he was being disrespectful.
The veteran’s own psychiatrist was not called as a witness at the trial.
Brannan pleaded guilty by reason of insanity which was rejected by the jury. He was found guilty and sentenced to death.
His attorneys have tried numerous times – three appeals, four petitions, and five motions – to avoid execution, saying that the veteran’s damaged mental health led him to killing Dinkheller.
Brannan served as a first lieutenant with the U.S. Army in Vietnam after volunteering in 1968. He received commendations and a Bronze Star for his service as an officer.
According to CBS, he acted as a Forward Observer – directing fire at the enemy, near the Laos border.
A fellow veteran, Ray Chastain, wrote a letter for his friend to the parole board. It read: ‘During the period when Lieutenant Brannan served, the Forward Observer had the shortest life expectancy of any category of soldier in Vietnam.’
Brannan (photographed) served as a first lieutenant with the Army in Vietnam and received commendations and a Bronze Star for his service as an officer