"I'm so ashamed of that point in my life," Stine said. "The bottom line in all of this is, in spite of what this fella did, I didn't have to do what I did, and I screwed up. ... It's really embarrassing. I was ashamed about 10 seconds after I did it."
But Stine said he is not dropping out of the commission race, which could be decided by Tuesday's primary.
"This will not affect my ability as a county commissioner. If I had to do it over again it wouldn't happen. But I'm human, I made a mistake and I accept the consequences of my actions," Stine said. "I hope people will forgive me and continue to support me."
The road-rage situation happened about 4 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2005, on Interstate 20, according to the Atlanta Police incident report.
But Stine said it began a little while earlier, as he was merging onto I-20 east near Six Flags, when an SUV with darkly tinted windows drove from the far left lane into Stine's lane, sending Stine into the ditch.
"I wanted to make sure he missed me, because he was going to hit me," Stine said.
Further up the interstate, Stine said the SUV pulled up beside him, and Stine shook his head at the driver to show his disdain at the earlier incident.
Stine said that's when the SUV began jutting into his lane, and the driver of the SUV continuously flipped Stine off, shook his fist and made other obscene gestures towards him. At this point, Stine said, the two drivers were on I-285.
"I just wanted him to leave me alone, to get home, so I had my windows up and put the profile of my .40 caliber Glock next to the window. It had a clip in it, but there was no bullet in the chamber, and I certainly had no intent to pull the trigger," Stine said. "I made a fool out of myself, quite frankly. I was angry and made a really bad decision and I accept responsibility for that."
"Ten seconds after it happened I said, 'Earl, you're a blooming idiot. What have you just done?' I accept the consequences of everything I do, and I'm just really ashamed of this," Stine said.
Stine got off at Atlanta Road and saw "two or three police cars sitting there, waiting for me," he said. The other driver had called 911 and been routed through Cobb County dispatchers. Stine said he pulled over and told the Cobb County Police officers they would find a gun in his glove box and a clip in his center console. Stine said he had a concealed-carry permit and had the gun in his car because he had recently been wild boar hunting.
The other driver, named in the police report as Jerome Durham of Hiram, also pulled over at Atlanta Road, but did not get out of his car. Stine said he didn't see anyone else in the other car.
"He was a few cars behind me and had rolled the window down and talked to the police. He was 40 or 50 feet behind me, and still at that point I didn't notice anyone else in the car. To be honest, I was kind of nervous to begin with when that happened because I'm not used to that sort of thing. I've never been in trouble in my life, and I haven't been in trouble since. I wasn't interested in getting in a fight," Stine said.
Durham did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.
According to the Cobb Police incident report, the other driver, reported to 911 dispatchers that Stine "had pointed a gun at him on I-20 eastbound before I-285 in Atlanta." During the traffic stop, Cobb Police confiscated Stine's weapon, a Glock model 22). "We determined the actual event occurred in the city of Atlanta. Atlanta Police did not respond to the scene so we advised Durham of warrant procedures and released both parties," Cobb Police noted.
Atlanta Police wrote up the incident report a week later, on Dec. 19, 2005. Stine hired Marietta defense lawyer Beth Guerra, who was in contact with the Fulton District Attorney's office. Stine was initially charged with, and later indicted on felony charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony; and two counts of second-degree cruelty to children, as there were two children in Durham's car.
Stine said he had arranged to turn himself in on Feb. 3, but said his appendix ruptured the night before, and his surrender was delayed several months as he endured other personal and family medical issues, including a car accident that left his son in a coma for several weeks.
He surrendered to Fulton County Sheriff's office on Aug. 28, 2006, according to the book-in records, and was released two days later on $125,000 bond. Stine said his time behind bars was spent in the jail's medical ward.
On March 20, 2007, Stine pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of simple assault. Fulton Superior Court Judge Tom Campbell sentenced him to two years on probation and ordered him to complete an anger violence course, which Stine had already done.
His probation term ended in March 2009.
Last Friday, Stine visited the Journal for an editorial board, and denied he had any skeletons to reveal.
"I've got one of the most boring lives in the world. I haven't got anything," he told the Journal at that time.
On Wednesday, Stine apologized and said he was trying save his family from the public embarrassment. He said he explained the situation to his two sons, who were 19 and 24 at the time, as "the perfect example of what not to do."
"I feel bad I didn't come out with it six or eight months ago, but it's really more embarrassing for my wife than it is for me. She was really appalled that it happened because she couldn't believe I would do something like that," Stine said.
Stine also said he did not renew his carry permit after the ordeal.
"I felt like I didn't deserve to carry a concealed weapon if I couldn't be responsible. Both my boys have carrying permits and if they ever did something stupid like I did, they should let it lapse," Stine said.