Damaged car camera elicits help from FBI

A recording from a malfunctioning police camera will be sent to the FBI Crime Lab in Washington to try to recover images of a Sunday shooting involving Richmond County sheriff's deputies at a public housing project.

 

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is reviewing the shooting of drug suspect Justin Elmore at Cherry Tree Crossing, sought the FBI's help Wednesday, Special Agent Gary Nicholson said in an e-mail.

Deputies said they shot Mr. Elmore after he tried to run over one of them with his SUV. He had been stopped on a tip his vehicle had drugs and weapons in it. Two other police car cameras recorded the incident, but authorities have refused to make those images public, although Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he has seen them and they support the action taken by his men.

Mr. Elmore died Tuesday after his family took him off life support. His shooting has provoked outrage including rock and bottle throwing protests.

Four people were arrested late Tuesday and charged with disorderly conduct.

They were identified Wednesday as:

- Rodriquez McFadden, 17, of the 1600 block of McCauley Street.

- Michael Harry Riley, 52, of the 1500 block of Bleakley Street.

- Bartrell Griffin, 17, of the 2800 block of Rocky Creek Road.

- Dexter Barnett, 21, of the 1500 block of Wooten Street.

A cousin of Mr. Elmore said several sheriffs' deputies brutalized her Tuesday night when she tried to find out why her son, Mr. Barnett, was being arrested.

Brenda Givens said she was choked and dragged by police who were arresting her son. She said she suffered a bad bruise on her leg and swelling to her neck, adding that she was recovering from recent thyroid surgery. Ms. Givens, 43, said authorities took her to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she was treated and released.

"They had grabbed my son and I was trying to see why they grabbed my son, because they had already targeted him out," she said Wednesday. "So I'm trying to see what they had him for and the officers bum rushed me, threw me to the ground ... and drug me from one end of the street to the other."

Lt. Scott Peebles said Wednesday he was there when the incident happened, confirming that officers restrained Ms. Givens. He said, however, he didn't believe they choked her.

He said she was handcuffed after she tried to intervene in her son's arrest but was later taken to the hospital after officers found she had "health problems." He said she was fortunate she was not arrested.

Mr. Barnett was charged with trying to incite the crowd after some people started throwing rocks and bottles at police, according to Lt. Peebles.

"The crowd was the one who demanded that we arrest him because they were there for peaceful purposes," Lt. Peebles said, referring to the vigil. "They were saying you need to go get him."

Also Wednesday, state Rep. Wayne Howard said he plans to meet with the residents of Cherry Tree Crossing to hear their complaints. His House district includes the public housing community

Staff Writer Greg Gelpi contributed to this report.

Reach Adam Folk and Mike Wynn at (706) 724-0851.

OFFICERS INVOLVED

The two sheriff's deputies involved in Justin Elmore's death remain on administrative duty. The Augusta Chronicle obtained the personnel files of Deputy Michael Hodge and Jose Ortiz through a Freedom of Information Act request this week.

JOSE RIVERA ORTIZ: Deputy Ortiz was hired November 2004. He had one two-day suspension last October. According to a disciplinary report, he involved himself in a vehicle pursuit that already had two vehicles and a supervisor involved.

The deputy left his assigned area to join the pursuit and was reprimanded for failure to operate his vehicle in compliance with officer policy.

MICHAEL HODGE: Deputy Hodge was hired November 2005. Deputy Hodge was suspended for two days for unsatisfactory performance in October 2007 after he allowed a hit-and-run victim to drag the man who struck his car by his neck and belt down the street.

He received a written warning in July 2008 after a burglary victim complained that he was "rude and unsympathetic" while responding to the scene. He denied this to his supervisor and "did not own up to (his) words and deeds when questioned about this incident."

Source: Richmond County sheriff's department