Prominent Atlanta attorney charged in wife’s shooting death

December 21, 2016 GMT

ATLANTA (AP) — A well-known Atlanta attorney has been charged in the shooting death of his business executive wife in a case that drew widespread public interest.

Claud “Tex” McIver faces a felony charge of involuntary manslaughter and a misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct and was expected to turn himself in Wednesday, Atlanta police spokesman Donald Hannah said.

McIver’s attorney, Stephen Maples, did not immediately respond to a phone message and email seeking comment on the charges.

McIver has told local news media he was riding in a rear seat of an SUV on Sept. 25 when a gun he was holding discharged and the bullet hit his wife, 64-year-old Diane McIver, who was sitting in the front passenger seat. She later died at a hospital.

Tex McIver, who’s in his 70s, is a partner at a prominent labor and employment law firm and vice chair of the state election board. He also sits on the advisory committee of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Gun Violence. His wife was president of U.S. Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Corey Airport Services, where she had worked for 43 years, according to the company. They lived in Atlanta’s upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

In the days following the shooting, police told local news media they were working through the investigation slowly because they wanted to get it right.

Several days after the shooting, Bill Crane, a McIver family friend, told local media that the couple was returning home from their horse ranch in rural Putnam County, about 70 miles southeast of Atlanta, when the person driving — who was later identified by media as a friend of Diane McIver — exited the highway to avoid traffic.

As the SUV near an intersection in midtown Atlanta where a homeless shelter is located, the vehicle was approached by several people. The McIvers were nervous about unrest surrounding Black Lives Matter Protests and feared a carjacking, Crane told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The couple took out a .38-caliber snub-nose revolver wrapped in a plastic grocery bag from the center console. Several blocks later, near Piedmont Park, the SUV hit a bump and the gun fired, Crane said. Tex McIver, who was nodding off when they hit the bump, didn’t remember firing the gun, Crane told the newspaper.

A few days later, Maples told the Journal-Constitution that there had been no concern about unrest. Instead, he said, the McIvers pulled out the gun as a precaution after seeing people in the street in an area where homeless people hang out.

McIver fell asleep and was jarred awake near the park, Maples said.

“I was suddenly awoken. I lurched and the gun fired,” McIver told the newspaper on Oct. 6. “I must have forgotten it was in my lap. I saw a flash.”

Tex McIver said he loved his wife and that the shooting was accidental and left him feeling overwhelmed with grief.

“She was my life partner,” he said. “My life as I know it is ruined because of this accident.”

Lee Davis, an attorney for Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the SUV, told the Journal-Constitution and WSB-TV that the vehicle was stopped at a red light when the gun fired. Davis said Carter does not believe Tex McIver intentionally shot his wife.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, an Atlanta Democrat, called for McIver to be removed from the state election board because of the initial account that he had been concerned about the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I believe Mr. McIver’s actions since the tragic death of his wife have called into question his views on the African-American community, and undermine the presumption of fairness he must have to serve as a member of the board,” Fort wrote in a letter to Senate leaders on Oct. 24, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Earlier this month, Tex McIver held a four-day estate sale to unload many items from his wife’s lavish closet, including designer shoes and more than 100 fur coats, according to local media. Maples said McIver is the executor of his wife’s estate and the sale was a step toward settling her affairs.

Roger Quillen, managing partner of Fisher & Phillips, the law firm where Tex McIver is a partner, said in a statement that McIver told the firm Monday that he will retire at the end of this year, rather than next year as planned, according to the Daily Report.