MUSCLE SHOALS, Ala. — A capital murder arrest warrant for double murder suspect Brian Lansing Martin reveals more details about what police believe happened leading up to the shooting deaths of a man and a Sheffield police officer last week.
The new details come from complaints filed by Muscle Shoals and Sheffield investigators against Martin for the murders of William Mealback Jr. and Sheffield Police Sgt. Nick Risner.
Mealback’s body was found on Avalon Avenue near State Street Oct. 1. Martin is charged with killing Mealback while the two were in Mealback’s truck.
Martin also is accused of killing Risner in a shootout later that day. Another police officer who was shot survived.
The affidavit from Muscle Shoals Police Det. Brad Hulsey begins with a 1:44 p.m. call about a person possibly hit by a vehicle on Avalon Avenue. When police arrived, they said they found Mealback’s body in the street. Mealback had a gunshot wound in the top of his head and a leather holster on his belt that was empty.
Witnesses on the scene told police they saw a truck — which was later identified as Mealback’s — driving down Avalon Avenue with two people inside who appeared to be struggling. The passenger door opened, the truck swerved and Mealback fell out onto the street where police found his body, according to the affidavit.
About 25 minutes later, at 2:11 p.m., Muscle Shoals police got a call about a hit-and-run wreck at Woodward and Avalon avenues, a little over a quarter of a mile from where Mealback was found. The victim had a picture of the vehicle and showed it to police. The vehicle was identified as Mealback’s, police said, and the truck’s information was given to police in the area.
Sheffield police spotted Mealback’s truck around 2:23 p.m. in Sheffield, the affidavit said, and the driver — identified later as Brian Lansing Martin — and chased the truck after Martin refused to stop.
The chase ended behind Southgate Mall, east of the Walmart parking lot, when police officers trapped the truck with their vehicles. Police said Martin shot out of his door several times, hitting Sgt. Risner in his vehicle. Sheffield Police Lt. Max Dotson came around the corner of Risner’s vehicle from the passenger side, exchanging shots with Martin, police said. Dotson was hit twice in his vest.
Martin was hit multiple times in the exchange, police said. He was pulled from the vehicle and handcuffed. He was then treated on scene, taken to Helen Keller Hospital and later flown to Huntsville Hospital.
Sgt. Risner, who was involved in the shootout, also was flown to Huntsville Hospital, where he died Saturday morning. Dotson was hit twice but saved by his bulletproof vest. Dotson has filed a lawsuit against Martin for the shooting.
After the shooting, police said they found a Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun and a .45-caliber Ruger handgun. Police said the Smith and Wesson was bought by Mealback, and that family members told them Mealback was known to carry a .45-caliber handgun on his side and a backup 9mm in his truck. Martin had the .45 pistol on him when he was arrested, as well as a loaded 9mm magazine in his pocket, according to Sheffield’s police complaint. The 9mm pistol was found in the passenger floorboard with an empty magazine and chamber.
Police also said they found one spent .45 shell casing and 17 spent 9mm shell casings inside the truck.
A preliminary autopsy found that Mealback was killed by a gunshot wound to the head that went into his chest, according to the Muscle Shoals police affidavit. The Sheffield complaint states there was blood on the passenger side of Mealback’s truck, and the window was damaged.
Family members of Mealback told police he did not drive normally because he was afraid of having seizures due to a medical condition. Mealback and Martin were close friends, the family members said, and Martin would drive when they traveled together.
Martin was released from the hospital Wednesday evening and taken to the Colbert County Jail. Officials said for his own safety, Martin would be moved to the Morgan County Jail.
He is charged with four counts of capital murder, two counts of attempted murder, two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle, one count of abuse of a corpse and one count of a felon in possession of a firearm.
Martin previously served time for manslaughter in the shooting death of his father. He was released early from his 10-year manslaughter sentence for good behavior.