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Police shooting rate high

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Tobias  Special
Special
Tobias
Video of Ronnie Strength of the Richmond County Sheriff's Office talking about the shooting death of Michael C. Nestor.

Based on population, Augusta has a higher rate of police shootings per capita than much larger cities such as Los Angeles and New York.

The latest occurred Tuesday night when three Richmond County narcotics officers were involved in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Michael C. Nestor. This was the fifth shooting -- four of them fatal -- involving an officer with the Richmond County Sheriff's Office since Nov. 24, 2008.

During the same period, officers in Savannah reported no shootings. The Gwinnett County Sheriff Department, whose population is more than triple Augusta's, has had four police shootings this year. Two were fatal. The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, which is responsible for more than 700,000 residents, has had a single shooting, which was fatal, this year.

Closer to home, there have been no police shootings in Columbia County in the past year, said sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris.

Aiken County has had one police shooting in the past year, when a deputy in training returned fire and killed an armed robbery suspect who was holding a hostage, sheriff's Sgt. Dave Myers said

The rate of police shootings per capita in Richmond County for the past 12 months was 2.5 per 100,000 people. In New York, the rate was 1.5 in 2008; in Los Angeles, it was 1.3, as reported in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times .

In Washington, D.C., which has one of the nation's highest crime rates, police reported officers there used their weapons 31 times in 2007, killing eight people and wounding 11. Its rate was 5.2 per 100,000 in 2007, the most current data available.

Law enforcement experts say numbers alone, however, don't necessarily give the whole story.

"You need to look at each one individually," said Geoffrey Alpert, professor of criminology at the University of South Carolina. "The number alone is high, but that doesn't mean there's a problem."

Looking at a short description of the Richmond County incidents, Dr. Alpert said it appeared that the police shootings have been driven by officers responding to the actions of civilians.

He noted that two of the shootings involved hostage situations, and another involved an armed robbery in progress.

"He or she may not have had any options," he said.

In cases where an officer fired at someone in a vehicle, if the officer could have moved out of the way of a vehicle by a fleeing suspect, it raises questions that should be asked during any internal investigation, Dr. Alpert said.

After Los Angeles had a rash of police shootings involving suspects in vehicles, the police department changed its policy to exclude the use of deadly force in such situations, said criminal justice consultant Gregory D. Lee, a retired Drug Enforcement Administration supervising agent whose assignments included teaching agents at the FBI Academy.

But in a situation where an officer is in danger of being struck by a vehicle, that's an assault on an officer, which is a felony in Georgia. An officer is justified in using deadly force to protect himself or others, Mr. Lee said.

Mr. Lee also cautioned that looking simply at the total number of police-related shootings isn't the end of the story. The important information comes from the details of what occurred during each incident.

A department can go years without a shooting and then experience a rash. Mr. Lee said that when he worked for the Pasadena, Calif., department in the early 1980s, there was only one police shooting in 21/2 years.

When he joined the DEA in Los Angeles, however, it wasn't unusual to have four shootings in a single year, he said.

No police officer starts his day hoping this will be the day he can be involved in a shooting, Mr. Lee said. Having to shoot someone is extremely stressful for an officer. Anyone who would express a desire to be involved in such an experience won't be in law enforcement long, he said.

Staff writer Stephanie Toone contributed to this article.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

RELATED STORY

Three investigators on desk duty after shooting

Police set high bar for using deadly force - February 4, 2009

OTHER RECENT POLICE SHOOTINGS IN RICHMOND COUNTY

NOV. 24, 2008

Investigator Tim Tobias fatally shot Joseph Gooden, 26. The 21-year veteran was working a special-duty assignment at Captain D's restaurant on Wrightsboro Road when Mr. Gooden, armed with a BB gun, robbed the restaurant.

DEC. 14, 2008

Deputies Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge were responding to a tip about a man with drugs and weapons in an SUV when they boxed in Justin Leonard Elmore, 23, using their patrol cars in the Cherry Tree neighborhood. Deputies said Mr. Elmore rammed Deputy Hodge's car and drove toward Deputy Ortiz. The deputies fired on Mr. Elmore and he died several days later.

DEC. 25, 2008

Deputy Scott White shot and wounded Georgette Reid during a hostage situation on Sunny Day Road in Hephzibah. Ms. Reid was fighting with her live-in girlfriend when she struck her in the head with a hammer and took her 4-year-old son hostage with a knife. As Deputy White entered the room, he shot Ms. Reid in the shoulder and pulled the boy away.

NOV. 12, 2009

An Augusta man free on bond awaiting a murder trial was killed by Richmond County sheriff's deputies Thursday when he refused to put down the knife he held to his wife's throat. Police said Terry Ramsey, 41, was shot when deputies responding to a phone call from his 14-year-old son, found him threatening his estranged wife Tameka Ramsey. He died at 4:49 a.m. at Medical College of Georgia Hospital. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the shooting at 814 Metcalf St., and both deputies -- Chadwick Plueger and Sylvester Rosier -- have been placed on desk duty.

NOV. 18, 2009 -- Three Richmond County narcotic officers -- Philip Hambrick, Jason Saal and Mike Swint -- were involved in a shooting in which Michael Nestor was fatally wounded. Sheriff Ronnie Strength said the officers shot Mr. Nestor, 30, when he tried to run one of them over with his car after they attempted to arrest him on several drug charges.

-- From staff reports

Comments (122) Add comment
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FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 11/19/09 - 02:18 am
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"In cases where an officer

"In cases where an officer fired at someone in a vehicle, if the officer could have moved out of the way of a vehicle by a fleeing suspect, it raises questions that should be asked during any internal investigation, After Los Angeles had a rash of police shootings involving suspects in vehicles, the police department changed its policy to exclude the use of deadly force in such situations." I think after yesterdays killing we should look into this.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 11/19/09 - 02:22 am
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I have a feeling the idot cop

I have a feeling the idot cop ran behind the car that was backing up and starting firing. Meanwhile the perp just saw two men in the dark running towards him with guns aimed at him and put the peddle to the metal. I would have done the same in a situation like that. Drug dealer or not.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 11/19/09 - 02:24 am
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Having Ronnie do the press

Having Ronnie do the press statement kind of hint's of a cover-up. Why all of a sudden make a public statement?

helpicantfindthespacebar
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helpicantfindthespacebar 11/19/09 - 02:38 am
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'perp'? Wow Fedup, so, not

'perp'? Wow Fedup, so, not only do you have the whole case figured out, but you know the official police lingo too. Thanks for clearing that up for the rest of us. *snerk*

eachoneteachone
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eachoneteachone 11/19/09 - 03:00 am
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We support RCSD Good work! We

We support RCSD Good work! We got your back!

charliemanson
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charliemanson 11/19/09 - 03:04 am
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AC, a few extra bullets

AC, a few extra bullets flying around at the bad guys just let's them know that "crime doesn't pay."

Brad Owens
4290
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Brad Owens 11/19/09 - 03:47 am
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I will wait till the GBI gets

I will wait till the GBI gets the job done before I reccomend any changes. Criminals need discipline. If society doesn't discipline criminals, then the criminals will discipline society. Meth-heads and Meth dealers destroy many more lives than theirs are worth. I am not sure what this man did but if you have a pistol in your face held by a police officer, you OBEY his commands. If you are not guilty then you will be fine. Just like Cherry Tree Crossing, if the 'perp' (eyes rolling) had stopped and obeyed the arresting officers' commands, there is a 99% chance he would be alive right now. I think this guy had done a year for meth and didn't want to go back to jail. Here in Sierra Leone, there is a shoot on site order for any armed robbers that are found. South Africa just ordered its cops to shoot armed suspects and took away the over rules of engagment to make is less of a 'question yourself' situation. Now, if they feel they should shoot they do. Everytime they shoot, it is one less criminal to rape, loot, and murder the decent people in society.

wildman
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wildman 11/19/09 - 05:17 am
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I agree with Brad, let's wait

I agree with Brad, let's wait for the investigation but on the other hand maybe the deputy's are just simply doing the job of protecting the rest of us and I thank them for that.

NEone
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NEone 11/19/09 - 06:06 am
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We have more killings and

We have more killings and less injuries? Maybe our cops have better aim. Good job, RCSD!

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 11/19/09 - 06:19 am
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If the criminal thugs from

If the criminal thugs from our area wish to move to NYC or Los Angeles where the police response is much slower and they have a better chance of getting away wiith a crime then so be it. However, each of the above shootings is more than jsutifited and for that matter, anyone committing a felony should understand their life is in jeopardy, as it should be. Great Job Richmond Country Sheriff's Office for doing the best job possible under difficult circumstances.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 11/19/09 - 06:21 am
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Law enforcement experts say

Law enforcement experts say numbers alone, however, don't necessarily give the whole story. Thinking people say, duh, to this comment. When officers have weapons drawn and ask you to yield, the smart person yields...five times in Augusta, since Nov., 08, the armed person took action OTHER than yielding. Four of them paid with their life and one was just hating being shot. The one point not stressed in this article, NO innocent people were shot by the police and ALL five were apprehended.

andywarhol
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andywarhol 11/19/09 - 06:29 am
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I hate when they use the "per

I hate when they use the "per capita" numbers to make it seem worse. In my home town of 3000 people one murder in a year makes it the most dangerous city in the U.S. per capita. lol

Painter
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Painter 11/19/09 - 06:46 am
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AC wants to sell news so they

AC wants to sell news so they create a situation in the name of investigative reporting that make the good guys look bad. This will backfire on you. Why not do the reporting which sets the scene of criminals fear for their life and citizens feel safe because we have the world's finest watching over us? That would be positive reporting. Please support our armed forces who risk their lives to protect the innocent and do harm to the criminal.

smartie
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smartie 11/19/09 - 07:02 am
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i do not believe these

i do not believe these deputies went here to kill this man. i believe a quick decision was made. i believe it was the wrong decision. i'm certain that the time of day, the lack of easily identifiable law enforcement uniforms and patrol cars were factors in this tragedy.

nofrills
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nofrills 11/19/09 - 07:10 am
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Here's a thought! Aim for the

Here's a thought! Aim for the tires!

terry67
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terry67 11/19/09 - 07:14 am
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here's a thought! don"t sell

here's a thought! don"t sell dope! don"t try to run cops down with your car!

justus4
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justus4 11/19/09 - 07:18 am
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This is a leadership issue,
Unpublished

This is a leadership issue, and why wasn't some effort made to provide a racial breakdown of the victims? This is a Constitutional issue because the government can't allow the appearance of terminating its citizens. Others will say,"these victims deserve what they got" however, in a civilized nation the people should demand answers.

iknowitwheniseeit
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iknowitwheniseeit 11/19/09 - 07:22 am
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Augusta's murder rate is also

Augusta's murder rate is also triple many larger cities. It's a violent, dangerous place.

smartie
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smartie 11/19/09 - 07:24 am
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i agree with justus. and

i agree with justus. and terry, what if he didn't know these were cops? i agree, also, DON'T DO DRUGS!

seenitB4
85643
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seenitB4 11/19/09 - 07:43 am
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I just read that a woman was

I just read that a woman was stoned to death in Africa for adultry we have come a long way,,,but as the saying goes "Greyhounds ready when you are"

gfwvaldostaga.
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gfwvaldostaga. 11/19/09 - 07:44 am
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Way to go deputies! you took

Way to go deputies! you took another [filtered word]off the roads to help make it safer for the rest of us citizens that have to live here! if he was a decent man waiting on the birth of his child he should have been out working a legal job and he would,nt have got shot. no sympathy from any of us that are not crooks!

southernguy08
499
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southernguy08 11/19/09 - 07:50 am
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You know JUSTUS, I agree.
Unpublished

You know JUSTUS, I agree. They should break down the numbers of "minority victims." Oh, wait a minute JUSTUS, wouldn't that show the numbers of "minority offenders" also? That would make the case of "racial profiling." Sorry JUSTUS, you can't have it both ways. You've been watching too much of that "non-minority media."

RushLimbuttbubba
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RushLimbuttbubba 11/19/09 - 07:58 am
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This drug dealing, lowlife

This drug dealing, lowlife thug,probably had no decent parents, he probably had babies all over town from different baby mommas, probably never finished school, probably been in and out of jail all of his lowlife, they are never going to amount to nothing, I don't want my tax money paying for thugs like this to watch TV and lift weights in prison, sitting around listening to gangsta rap (gangsta rock n' roll, gangsta county music) etc. etc. etc................Remember the comments about the Thug that was shot in the "Projects"?? Come on you people!! Where are you!?!? Let's SPREAD THE TRASH AROUND!!!!! Or...What?! This is different??!! Just Checking!

RoadkiII
6445
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RoadkiII 11/19/09 - 07:58 am
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The cops must announce

The cops must announce themselves. In serving a warrant the badge is also shown. The "he didn't know they were cops" excuse has an effective range of exactly 0.0 meters.

CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 11/19/09 - 07:58 am
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Good job RCSD! Shoot to
Unpublished

Good job RCSD! Shoot to stop. You guys are doing a spectacular job of cleaning up the streets...keep it up and the thugs will eventually figure it out.

CABoatright
188
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CABoatright 11/19/09 - 08:05 am
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Respect for the law will
Unpublished

Respect for the law will eventually be regained. Respect is nothing but fear grown up.

johnston.cliff
2
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johnston.cliff 11/19/09 - 08:07 am
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limbutt, great deducing! Your

limbutt, great deducing! Your posts are sure consistent. I see you still don't seem to care what the article says.

LEO
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LEO 11/19/09 - 08:10 am
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I agree with Painter. It

I agree with Painter. It looks like the AC is stirring the pot again. The headline should read, "Augusta has a higher rate per capita of attempted murder, especially of police officers". And to those of you who think Mr. Nestor didn't know they were deputies, did you not hear the sheriff say that the deputies had vests emblazoned with the word 'Sheriff', had badges around their necks AND identified themselves as such? The preponderance of evidence would suggest he knew what he was doing when he tried to get away. Whether he intentionally tried to kill the deputy behind the vehicle or not, we'll never know. But we do know he paid no regard for their close proximity as he attempted to speed away. Hopefully, this investigation will be resolved quickly so that this story will speed away and the AC won't be able to add any more fuel to the fire.

xanadu
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xanadu 11/19/09 - 08:15 am
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people doing wrongful acts

people doing wrongful acts against others getting wounded or killed by police in the course of committing a crime. gee, who woulda thunk it? i challenge any of you who are questioning these officers for their decisions to take on the job. go ahead. go sign up, put the uniform on, and see what happens when you are confronted with madmen and idiots who have only their own selfish interests at heart and think they can do whatever they want. once you have walked in their shoes for a week or two, lets hear what you have to say about the human race in general.

tlnvols
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tlnvols 11/19/09 - 08:30 am
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Justus bringing up race, go

Justus bringing up race, go figure

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