No video made of fatal chase

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Sheriff Ronnie Strength said Monday that no videotape recording exists of a police chase that led to a fatal car wreck.

In response to a request from The Augusta Chronicle for a copy of a video recording of the Saturday crash, Sheriff Strength said the patrol car's video and audio recorders were inoperable that night.

"They went out on Feb. 29 and hadn't been sent out for repairs," Sheriff Strength said.

"It's not that unusual. We have 250 cameras, and they can go out at any time," he said.

He added that even if the camera had worked properly, he would not have permitted media outlets to have a copy "until the investigation is complete."

The chase, which involved sheriff's Deputy Anthony Gregory, resulted in the death of 42-year-old Laura Latimer of Augusta. A Chevrolet Blazer being chased by the deputy struck a car in which Ms. Latimer was a passenger at the intersection of Gordon Highway and Old Savannah Road. The Blazer's driver, Jamie Lee Clark, 19, of Jackson, pulled off after he had been stopped for running a traffic light in the 1200 block of Broad Street.

Deputy Gregory's supervisor twice told him to "break off" the chase, according to an audio account aired on WRDW-TV.

On Monday, Sheriff Strength re-emphasized that he stands by Deputy Gregory's actions as the sheriff's office and the Georgia State Patrol officials investigate the accident.

The sheriff describes such chases as a "necessary evil."

"You can't have a policy and say you're not going to pursue anyone because of course then everybody runs," he said. "This was a terrible, terrible accident, but the cause of this tragedy was the suspect's decision to flee."

Mr. Clark is charged with first-degree vehicular homicide, fleeing and attempting to elude, reckless driving, violation of learner's permit restriction and DUI, according to Sheriff Strength.

The sheriff said the deputy never acknowledged to dispatchers that he had heard an order to back off, which might mean the deputy could not hear his radio.

Deputy Gregory, 26, has worked for the Sheriff's Office for three years and initially worked as a jailer, Sheriff Strength said. The deputy remains fully employed and has not been suspended, the sheriff said.

"He has been a good employee," he said.

Reach Timothy Cox or Adam Folk at (706) 724-0851


AUDIO

- Listen to the police radio recording

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Fishboy
29
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Fishboy 03/04/08 - 10:13 am
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0

Everyone's missing the point

Everyone's missing the point here - The suspect was pulled over for RUNNING A RED LIGHT in the first place. What if he'd hit and killed someone with that first violation?

I got T-boned at the same intersection by someone RUNNING A RED LIGHT. It totaled my truck, but by the grace of GOD, I walked away with relatively minor injuries. So I ask: isn't it a priority to get a driver like that off the streets before they kill someone? They are deadly whether being chased by police or not.

getreal2
0
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getreal2 03/04/08 - 10:14 am
0
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Little Lamb needs to read the

Little Lamb needs to read the story! He's already past 18. It states Jamie Lee Clark, 19,

Opinionated
0
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Opinionated 03/04/08 - 10:16 am
0
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Perhaps alot of ppl bash the

Perhaps alot of ppl bash the police because they have had bad run-ins with them. Not all officers live by the rules, as you can see be this tradgic event. In this situation the ppl arre right. Not about everything they're saying, but he's in the wrong this time, too.

jackfruitpaper833
41
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jackfruitpaper833 03/04/08 - 10:17 am
0
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The officer showed

The officer showed undiscipline signs as well, if dispatch said stop chasing he should have, but it seems the officer wasn't going to be OUT DONE and had the mentaility like most, HE MUST get his man. Just think if the officer had stopped this lady would be alive, that ifteenminuteofasecond may have prevented this death IMO. I fault the perp and the officer.

FallingLeaves
26
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FallingLeaves 03/04/08 - 10:20 am
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I don't know about you but

I don't know about you but when I'm talking to someone on the phone, sometimes I can hear her and sometimes I can't. At the same time, she can hear me I sometimes can't hear her. I'm inclined to give the officer the benefit of the doubt that he at some point did not hear everything that was being said from the other end. Did any of the other officers that were responding catch any of the chase on their video cams? I haven't heard any explanation of the White Chevy Impala that was allegedly pulled from the scene, either.

critter
2
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critter 03/04/08 - 10:22 am
0
0

19 year old and only a

19 year old and only a learner's permit?

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 03/04/08 - 10:29 am
0
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"(F)ishboy" and "bg" make

"(F)ishboy" and "bg" make excellent points about the kid's potential danger and the recording of the audio, respectively.

Daddyrabbit
0
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Daddyrabbit 03/04/08 - 10:30 am
0
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State of Florida????k GO

State of Florida????k GO THERE!!! Slique, it sounds like you might already be a "runner". Maybe those people should be identified and shot if stopped so that they can't run and hurt others.....

dani
12
Points
dani 03/04/08 - 10:42 am
0
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I thought that the deputy was

I thought that the deputy was only told to break it off before he crossed the state line. Is that not so? Or are we intentionally leaving something out so that we can try to discredit the sheriff's department.

tandz
0
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tandz 03/04/08 - 10:44 am
0
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Bless the family of the lost

Bless the family of the lost woman. Curse the intoxicated, reckless criminal. And thank the police officer for trying to make our streets safer.

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
6415
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 03/04/08 - 10:50 am
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OK to all you sex experts

OK to all you sex experts commenting, apparently you've never been in that situation. You can't hear everything and what you heard was from a dispatch tape that singles out each transmission. You are only hearing one side of a three or four sided story. Beside, even if the deputy had broken off the suspect would no have slowed but would have continued at a high rate of speed, so who can say that even if the deputy had broken off the chase the accident still wouldn't have happened.I lay the blame on the suspect but also the driver of the other car for not being attentive enough to possibly avoid an accident . How many times have you watched people run a red light and narrowly avoided an accident? I can count 6 times within a 30 minute period on March 1st from Tobacco Road all the way through Belair Rd. in Columbia County.There are several people to blame but I can't blame the deputy for doing his job!

lucki_ducki02
0
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lucki_ducki02 03/04/08 - 10:50 am
0
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you know i am sitting here

you know i am sitting here and reading the comments against the office in pursuit and thinking to myself what would have happened had he not chased the boy? guess what that answer would be- he would go home free as a bird and tell all his buddies how he got away-think of it this way-would you want to be on the road with a 19 year old kid under the influence speeding and running lights? what about your kids? this officer did what he was trained to do. protect te innocent-untill yall have sat in the cruiser with sirens and road interference yall cant say that he did or did not hear the radio. yes a mother lost her life and that officer has to live with that memory for the rest of his life. but think of it this way- that boy had the choice to deal with the consequences of his actions but he chose to run. dash cams go out all the time but with the crime level we have and the low budget that this city has how are they supposed to service all cars to perfection at all times? just a thought

pablanco
0
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pablanco 03/04/08 - 10:56 am
0
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I would rather the 19 year

I would rather the 19 year old go home and brag to his buddies about getting away than read that an innocent mother was killed.

read this
1
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read this 03/04/08 - 11:07 am
0
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Monday morning quarterbacks.

Monday morning quarterbacks. The real issue is whether this incident will generate a review of the policy for our future. Personally, I think the benefit is not worth the risk. Watch those chases on Most Shocking Videos. They all end badly. It should be relatively easy to review the records of this past year and establish whether the police pursuits ended with convictions in court and if people or property were damaged in the process.

lucki_ducki02
0
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lucki_ducki02 03/04/08 - 11:14 am
0
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yeah but then if that would

yeah but then if that would have happend we would be having the same situation over and over again. if they think that they can do it once they can do it again. what if the next time that boy hits someone crossing that intersection? what if next time one of his buddies trys to do the same thing and loses control and plows into a group of people? go ahead slap the boy on the wrist and tell him hes a bad boy and to go home to mommy and daddy? think not sweety. how do u know that this boy would have slowed down after the cop stopped the pursuit? try to persuade someone else that this cop is at fault cause it aint working here. he did what he had to do to keep the streets safe. like i said before its unfortunate a mother lost her life but yet again that boy was the one that took that choice. had he faced the law he would have possibly lost his permit for a few months and given a fine and that mother would be able to go home and hug her kids another day. dont blame the officer for what that kid did. i really cant say he is a kid he is 19 and knows better and knows right from wrong. PERIOD!

freedombelle
25
Points
freedombelle 03/04/08 - 11:25 am
0
0

Gee Whiz, You can tell who

Gee Whiz, You can tell who most likely has had a run-in with the law by just sitting back reading these post. Seems like some folks just "HATE" any authority especially cops. I'll bet if you needed them and they were trying to help you it would be a lot different wouldn't it? This whole issue is a sad chain of events that ended tragically for the lady who lost her life. My sympathy to her family. Hindsight is 20/20. Not our job to judje,,,only ONE can do that. Let internal affairs handle it.

WHATDIDIDO
0
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WHATDIDIDO 03/04/08 - 11:33 am
0
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You all keep saying this

You all keep saying this drunk driver. If this driver was so drunk, why in the hell did the deputy not take the keys? This is a fact that was known after the chase not prior. I too have a problem with both the Sgt. and dispatcher not verifying that the deputy understood that he needed to break the chase off.

Tall1
1
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Tall1 03/04/08 - 11:42 am
0
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The ONLY people who would

The ONLY people who would object to police pursuits are: criminals and victims of unfortunate tragedies like this. My earlier post "criticising" the dead victim was to illustrate how unfair it is to "criticise" the police officer. If those "protesters" were the victim of a crime, and that criminal chose to run, they'd certainly be singing a different hymn.

pablanco
0
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pablanco 03/04/08 - 11:49 am
0
0

I have no problem with law

I have no problem with law enforcement or authority. I don't like mothers that die before their time.

I do think the kid should be imprisoned for a very long time. Give him the chair. It doesn't matter to me.

I don't think the officer should be punished but I do believe he mad a mistake that ended up in a death.

dani
12
Points
dani 03/04/08 - 11:54 am
0
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readthis. I would think that

readthis. I would think that the law breakers would learn that no good comes from fleeing but it seems they don't.

Evans Ga.
0
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Evans Ga. 03/04/08 - 11:57 am
0
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He added that even if the

He added that even if the camera had worked properly, he would not have permitted media outlets to have a copy.

THE REAL TRUTH

pablanco
0
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pablanco 03/04/08 - 11:58 am
0
0

They should make the penalty

They should make the penalty for fleeing, stiffer than any charge they could potentially get if they did not.

dani
12
Points
dani 03/04/08 - 11:58 am
0
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At what point did the driver

At what point did the driver flee? Did he flee when the deputy asked to see his license? It might be that was the only action the deputy was able to take. The drivers might have never produced a license or if so fled the scene before the deputy had time to go any further. Is it possilbe that that could be the case?

TakeAstand
13
Points
TakeAstand 03/04/08 - 12:00 pm
0
0

All ayll keep saying minor

All ayll keep saying minor traffic offense.... he is being charged with dui!!!!!! To me a drunk driver is one of the worst most pathetic [filtered word]'s there are. And for those of you whining about hearing the officer told to break it off. Listen carefully... the officer said hes from SC he will prob go to SC, the sup said then break it off at the state line, the officer said I have his ID, the sup said break it off again, alot lower and only once, then the suspect turned down gordon hwy headed west which they were not expecting, this is all within the first minute or so, the sup never once again said break it off anyway. If you listen it does appear the sup told him to break it off if he went into SC. And this officer was not jacked up on a rush wanting this chase you can tell by his calmness on the tape. So you peopel whining they were told to break it off and listened to the tapes... are you dumb???? after the guy didnot cross the state line and continues to run in GA noone ever told the officer to break it off. THE [filtered word] WAS DUI.... HE NEEDED TO BE STOPPED. Stop trying to get hands in deep pockets and bash police. BLAME THE 19 YR OLD PO.S. BLAME THE RIGHT PERSON!!

Tall1
1
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Tall1 03/04/08 - 12:09 pm
0
0

Bravo TakeAStand. Encore!

Bravo TakeAStand. Encore!

Painter
24
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Painter 03/04/08 - 12:12 pm
0
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When the traffic offender

When the traffic offender decided to run he became a felon not just a traffic offender. He could have been a kidnapper or involved in any kind of harmful crime. The pursuing officer could not know why the criminal was fleeing. He did his sworn duty, trying to protect the public. He had no control over the criminal who murdered Mrs. Latimer. That boy should go away for a long time and let others see and learn from this. I thank the Sheriff for standing behind his department.

CoastalDawg
125
Points
CoastalDawg 03/04/08 - 12:12 pm
0
0

The arguments will go on and

The arguments will go on and on but will anything good come from this? IS there a chase/do not chase policy in place for the police in Richmond County? Initiall it was said that this was a traffic violation shop, now DUI has been trhown into the mix but how can that be if there was no test? The driver of the vehicle which was initially stopped certainly is at fault, but chasing him at that time of evening on Gordon Highway makes less and less sense as more information comes forth. SAying the depurty couldn't hear what was the most important transmissions from his dispatcher is like saying tht the deputy is blind and was driving. If radio communication within the department is that bad, someone needs to buy new equipment. That supposed "did not hear the transmission to break it off" cost an innocent person her life. Sirens are used quite often and if the sound of the siren is drowning out the sound of important transmissions, something is wrong, wrong, wrong. The sheriff wasn't a part of the chase - give him time to sift through all the information and then trust him to make the right decision.

pav2003
0
Points
pav2003 03/04/08 - 12:13 pm
0
0

To the family of the deceased

To the family of the deceased young lady, you have my sincere sympathy.
I think what I'm hearing most posters say is they are displeased with the"practice" of high-speed chase; I'm not getting the impression that most posters are blaming the deputy except for his failure to "hear" directions from his supervisor. Seems like something needs to be done to enable deputies to "hear" while in their patrol cars. That's an extreme barrier when the officer can not "hear" directions, ... you think??????? Otherwise, why have the radios if they are not audible while a siren is in use.???

sanders20
0
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sanders20 03/04/08 - 12:20 pm
0
0

Just4...please stop drinking

Just4...please stop drinking the water. did you see the article released today? MSN... "While young drivers have higher chances of dying, the six-year study focused on nearly 10,000 children passengers who were killed in car crashes. More than half — 54 percent — were riding with a teen driver."...this fine young kid was drunk and driving on a learners permit. sounds to like he would of killed someone anyway.

jackfruitpaper833
41
Points
jackfruitpaper833 03/04/08 - 12:33 pm
0
0

The 19 year old and the

The 19 year old and the officer are at fault. Ronnie's legacy is about to be tainted a little.

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