Georgia State Patrol troopers and Glynn County police who had chased the car thought they had it stopped when the driver began to steer through a gap between two patrol cars directly toward two Glynn officers, Doering said.
The officers, a sergeant and a patrol officer, fired eight shots altogether into the car's windshield, one of which struck the driver in the face, Doering said.
Doering identified the driver as Carolyn Small, 35, and said her last address was in Waverly Pines, the subdivision where the chase stopped with the shooting in the 200 block of Armstrong Avenue.
A bullet struck Small in the cheek, and she was taken to a Savannah hospital where she was in stable condition and expected to recover fully, Doering said.
His office will conduct its own internal investigation, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has joined in investigating the shooting.
GBI crime-scene investigators were examining the car Friday night in the police department's garage, where it was impounded.
Doering said the entire incident was recorded by cameras in the officers' cars and it appears now that the officers acted reasonably in firing on the driver.
"I am satisfied right now the officers' conduct was reasonable, that they genuinely feared for their safety and their lives,'' he said.
Both are "very shaken'' and have been placed on administrative leave, he said.
Doering declined to identify them Friday night but said he would in a matter of days when more of the investigation is complete.
His office will continue its own criminal investigation into Small's action, he said, but no charges had been filed Friday night.
The incident began about 11:30 a.m. with a 911 call from a man who had seen a woman who appeared to be heating something in her lap inside a car in front of Embassy Suites hotel at the mall, Doering said.
"He stopped and talked to her. He told the dispatcher she appeared 'spaced out,''' Doering said.
A Glynn County police officer located the woman, noticed her eyes were glazed and asked her to turn off her car's engine.
"She just drove off. He runs back to his car and engages in a pursuit. She's just driving around the mall parking lot at 20 to 25 mph,'' Doering said.
She hit a curb in the mall parking lot, flattening her right front tire and kept going, he said.
After she left the mall parking lot, two Georgia State Patrol troopers took the lead in the chase and, with Glynn County officers, followed as she drove to Waverly Pines, sometimes running off onto the shoulder but never going faster than 35 mph.
With her tires flat, she continued her erratic driving around Waverly Pines streets flattening a couple of mailboxes and driving onto the edges of lawns as state troopers tapped her car with theirs trying to spin her out. They finally succeeded with a state patrol car behind her and a county police car in front blocking her. Officers ordered her out of the car, but she backed into the state patrol car, pulled forward into a Glynn County car and subsequently steered toward a gap where the two officers were standing. That's when they fired, Doering said.
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