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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iluvdundee
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iluvdundee 03/04/08 - 12:45 pm
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to all those saying you heard

to all those saying you heard on the recording you heard the deputy to break it off, that is a recording from the dispatchers.to hear over sirens in a vehicle (i work on an ambulance) even with the radio at maximum, we cant always hear our radio.its unfortunate a woman died and im truly sorry for the family, but he was bound to kill someone with his actions anyway, it just happened to be when he was running from the cops. i didnt work this wreck, but ive worked enough fatal car crashes that had nothing to do with police chases but rather drunk driving, it was just unfortunate that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. again, truly sorry to the family for their loss, but thats one more killer off my/our streets.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 03/04/08 - 12:50 pm
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With or w/ot a siren, if you

With or w/ot a siren, if you listen to the tapes you will see if appeared as though the officer was told to break it off if it goes into SC. There may have been some miscommunication and misunderstanding, may not have, that may have been exactly what the sup meant. The sheriff has to come up with something of some statement for the media before all evidence has a chance to be sifted through correctly. It does not mean there was any negligence. Want to sue someone???? Sue the 19 year old..after all.. the [filtered word] lawyers and judges will give him a slap on the wrists for all hes done anyway, they let repeat dui offenders roam our streets consistantly, so sue him and make him pay when he gets out in 3 years or so if that!! And for those of you wishing ill thoughts to this officer for doing his job which is very tough and having to make split second life altering decisions stuff it!!! You people get reved up over the chance to bash any law enforcement you can, but most of you are also the same people who defend sorry criminals on here day after day whining its the way they was raised, its not their fault, they are a child, they was on hard times, they can be rehabed etc... I know officer should be held to a higher standard, but most of you people have more compassion and excuses for a cold blooded killer than you do for any officer whos human who may have made a mistake in a case. My deepest sympathy for the victims family, but I blame the criminal!!!!

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 03/04/08 - 01:04 pm
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Only to people like you

Only to people like you jackfruitcake.. listen to the tape.. he was not on a rush to "get his man". He was doing his job trying to stop a criminal.

DoubleD
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DoubleD 03/04/08 - 01:12 pm
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People always tend to forget

People always tend to forget who broke the law. It was the drunken boy, bottom line. A police officer puts his/her own life on the line day in and day out. They have to make decisions while their adrenalin is pumping and they too may be scared for their own life. To blam a man who may actually die doing what he does for a living, because of his choice to pursue a CRIMINAL is sad. Those are the same people that make our Soldiers hesitate to pull the trigger in the heat of a BATTLE, while protecting our freedoms, because of fear of being prosecuted for war crimes against people who kidnap our innocent and decapitate them while still alive. I agree with destroying the video, if that is what happened. Those of you who have never been on a team that is at war wouldn't understand. That officer makes a lliving out of serving the community to keep you safe. It the tape was destroyed, GOOD, that is how you take car of your team. It was a tragic event, but the officer had to be protected from the people so ready to sue and see his career and wellbeing of his family put into jeopardy. THAT IS WHAT A TEAM DOES FOR ONE ANOTHER! I will take care of my own no matter what!

read this
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read this 03/04/08 - 01:17 pm
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If a 19 year old is DUI, was

If a 19 year old is DUI, was it alcohol or drugs? Was the chance to catch a runner worth anyone's life? Was it worth your life? Was it worth your daughter's life? Driving a car is a responsibility and a priviledge that most of us respect, but still accidents happen, negligence happens, and irresponsibility happens. Traffic laws are made for drivers, and pursuit policies are made for deputies. Protect the innocent, don't chase. It is like shooting at a shoplifter in the mall.

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 03/04/08 - 01:21 pm
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Check out the posts by "john"

Check out the posts by "john" and "anonymous" on the Channel 12 website under story "Sheriff responds to deadly chase..." and also put words: Deputy sisters brother Terrell in search engine on same website and a story with a post under it from "tonya" will give some similar concerns about another vehicle and some arrests. I do not know if any of these are true, but if there is an investigation going on, I wonder if any of those posts include credible, relevant, or helpful info for the investigators and parties concerned?

bigmike5819
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bigmike5819 03/04/08 - 01:22 pm
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Sgt. Steptoe told the deputy

Sgt. Steptoe told the deputy to break of the chase at the state line. End of that debate. The above article fails to mention that the Sgt. included the state line in his order. So even if the deputy heard the order, it could be assumed being that the chase went the opposite way and for 4 minutes more no further break it off was heard. The adrenalined pumped deputy did his job and according to the supreme court many circumstances have to be considered in this type chase. A major condition is how close was the deputy to the punk? The radio transmission sounds like the deputy was a good ways behind the punk and not on his a-- pushing him, but close enough to call the pursuit. I have worn the uniform for many many years and in the 70's and early 80's this punk may have been fired upon if he committed felonies during his escape. And oh, for the spike strip theory. You have to have a man in front that can roll it out in a precise manner to get the punk and not cause an innocent car or deputy car to be hit. You critics suit up with 6 to 12 pounds of gear every day and get spit on, cut, cursed, shot, shot at. Witness the child abuse, rape -assault victims and yes the victims of wrecks.

DoubleD
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DoubleD 03/04/08 - 01:22 pm
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By the way, three months ago

By the way, three months ago my uncle was ran over on his Harley by a drunken teenager that was being pursued by the police. He barely survived and is still undergoing numerous medical treatments and surgeries. No one person in my family ever blamed the officers in pursuit. I guess that is the difference in the mentality of people from the northern U.S. ,than that of Augusta's finest citizens.

DoubleD
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DoubleD 03/04/08 - 01:28 pm
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Good on ya, BIGMIKE5819! Its

Good on ya, BIGMIKE5819! Its the lazy a-- people who know no true meaning in life and have never seen the horrors of those who have to protect their freedoms that criticize the officers and military. They don't know the sacrifice and challenges you had to face, yet they will curse you the minute you make a mistake. It is a very sad state in this country. We lack pride and loyalty in what is right. I will protect my good officer for he has protected the innocent thousands of times compared to his one mistake! I could keep going on, but you get the idea.

dani
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dani 03/04/08 - 01:29 pm
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A giant rant to Channel 6 for

A giant rant to Channel 6 for repeatedly showing the tape of a woman who says it was her sister that was killed and blames it solely on the deputy. Fair and balanced news would give the opposing side (the side of the deputy) an equal opportunity to air their view.

Rose
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Rose 03/04/08 - 01:34 pm
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Little Lamb, a 17 yr old goes

Little Lamb, a 17 yr old goes to adult jail, and also when he is 18. This MAN is 19.

DoubleD
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DoubleD 03/04/08 - 01:38 pm
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Rosa Lovett is probably only

Rosa Lovett is probably only seeing dollar signs now. Also, so is it now the responsibility of the Sheriff's office to pay for all property damages as a result of a police chase? ACCIDENTS HAPPEN PEOPLE! That is why it is called an accident. This accident was caused by the choice of the young man to flee. Ronnie Strength sounds like an outstanding Sheriff!

bigmike5819
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bigmike5819 03/04/08 - 01:44 pm
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Yep, the channel 12 news

Yep, the channel 12 news reporter also failed to mention the state line part of the order when she gave her monologue on the chase, but I clearly heard the state line when she played the audio scanner tape provided. Oh. The GSP will check the camera for function or non function in the patrol car and yes many of the older systems take a vcr tape in the trunk for recording. The newer ones take a memory card. From my experience the older ones malfunction quite often and have programming problems. Ronnie didn't say the tape wouldn't be turned over if it existed. He said until the GSP investigation was over, according to the reporter. Follow me a year and I will make you have a deep under standing of public service, protect and serve. You have to make split second decisions in very dire circumstances that affect the citizens and your safety all the time. So you arm chair quarterbacks keep it up. I hope you never have to rely on a uniformed servant under any of these circumstances. But if you do, please remember my words.

devilishlymad67
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devilishlymad67 03/04/08 - 01:52 pm
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for those that want to

for those that want to condemn the officer and police department or whine that a "cover-up" exist.... do us all a favor, the next time you are in need of an officers assistance, don't call them, maybe then you will be able to appreciate them. Usually the ones whining cover-up or are so quick to condemn w/out walking a mile in their shoes are usually the ones that could not bear a close examination by the police department.

s351
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s351 03/04/08 - 02:02 pm
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you know i actually think the

you know i actually think the augusta are inbreeds idiots. just listen to yourselfs. stop and think which kills more people police chases or dui. there is no comparison you cant have your cake and eat it too. wake up augusta.

NotyourDadsBuick
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NotyourDadsBuick 03/04/08 - 02:08 pm
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Most legitimate police

Most legitimate police departments have in place a policy regarding when it is appropriate to engage in a high speed pursuit of a suspect. Of those, most require the commission of felony or intent to harm others. Running a red light usually won't cut the mustard. I don't know if this was a high speed pursuit or something else. But the article states the deputy was twice advised to break off the pursuit and he failed to do so. If true, it doesn't look good for the deputy. If I'm representing the estate of the decedent, I'm suing the county, the sheriff's department and the driver who ran. However, the county and the sheriff have the deep pockets, not the driver.

NotyourDadsBuick
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NotyourDadsBuick 03/04/08 - 02:11 pm
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Hate to break it to certain

Hate to break it to certain people, but engaging in pursuit of someone is not a blink-of-an-eye decision like firing on someone would be. A pursuit is always longer than a split-second which allows time for the deputy to judge whether the risk to the public is worth the pursuit of a red light runner. See you in court.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 03/04/08 - 02:14 pm
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Yeah deep pockets, these same

Yeah deep pockets, these same lawyers ready to jump on this one and cry about the injustice of a police chase are the same ones who will defend a dui case of a repeat offender and try to make them look like a saint all for the all mighty buck. I blame alot of lawyers and judges for allowing dui's to recieve slaps on the wrist. And I think any one killed by a repeat offernder dui should sue the lawyer who defended him in the previous cases and the judge who bought the lawyers load of crap... they both have deep pockets too!!! You sound like an ambulance chaser....sounds like you already admit you don't know what's going on in this case but you are ready to try and line you pockets beforehand!!

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 03/04/08 - 02:16 pm
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augusta voter ...cops are

augusta voter ...cops are nothing more than people , and people can lie,be dishonest,make mistakes, cheat,play favorites,stereotype,bend the rules,and these idiots have guns and a free license to use them.i went to school with people who became cops and frankly i would not trust them to walk my dog, much less take care of a police job-they were stupid in school,lazy,drank,did everything like anyone else--so you tell me where putting on a damn cop suit suddenly changes all that.
this cop was wrong from the start...he should have made the person get out of the car and stand in front of the squad car..hands on hood.at any rate chasing people thru downtown and out thru gordon hwy is asking...i repeat, asking for an accident to happen, and he knew this.millions of dollars in technology- taxpayers millions mind you- and the mindset is still wild wild west??? as far as your pitiful excuses about cameras being turned off-how convenient- if you ever need evidence,would not a chase be one? guess that's another mistake,eh/
oh, and by the way...maybe you need to shut up.what'cha think ??

intheknow
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intheknow 03/04/08 - 02:25 pm
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I believe that if you listen

I believe that if you listen to the audio again, when first told of the incident, Sgt.Steptoe informed the deputy to " Break it off at the state line". After being told by the deputy that he had the offender's permit, insurance information and tags, Sgt. Steptoe responded " Break it off."

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 03/04/08 - 02:26 pm
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How do you know play???? Were

How do you know play???? Were you there? Why are you sterotyping because of a few bad seeds you know? Do you know this officer personally??? You have no respect for the good honest hardworking officers that do protect and serve us to be making comments like that. Playlike thunder my foot... I think you was struck by lightning on this one... maybe you need to shut up!!! whatcha think???

DoubleD
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DoubleD 03/04/08 - 02:31 pm
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NotyourDadsBuick is making

NotyourDadsBuick is making one key point that validates what I was saying. Read closely what is being said. "I'm suing the county, the sheriff's department and the driver who ran. However, the county and the sheriff have the deep pockets, not the driver" A true person, who may be against the deputy, would want to see the deputy held accountable for his actions. You however, Sir, are like everyone else. Your true intentions are to line your pockets, not seek justice. Since you are so experienced with the law you should know that the Sheriff's dept. and the State will find a way to protect the officer. I'd also like to know how many pursuits you've been in, and how you managed not to get your ardenalin pumping during a high speed pursuit.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 03/04/08 - 02:35 pm
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yes intheknow, but also that

yes intheknow, but also that was before the suspect went west and not into SC like they thought wasn't it.. and for the next 3 mintues all the way down gordon hwy the sgt never said another word about breaking it off while listening t it continue. Does it not maybe sound liek to you the officer may have been under the impression to break it at the state line but then the situation changed and the sgnt never said another word. Miscommunitcation??maybe, but this officer did not sound as though he was intentionnaly disobeying an order ona rush rying to get his man, does it to you?? While there may have been a mistake make int he dept by certain people I do not think this officers derseves the barading and public lynching the media is trying to portray he deserves. What do you think, you should have a good insight into it, you seem prettymuch to teeter on the sides of the law and the people, I myself am partial to our officers,not that there arent bad apples in every bunch, but for the most part I respect the tough job they have and tough decisions they make everyday to try to do whats right and possibly being scrutinized for every single move they make, no matter how good the intent. Imma go listen again lol Good to see ya btw, hope you are doing well!! =)

intheknow
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intheknow 03/04/08 - 02:41 pm
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Dani, I doubt that they can

Dani, I doubt that they can give the deputy's version due to a pending investigation. If they failed to cover the story some would be crying cover up. Do not blame the press for reporting the news.

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 03/04/08 - 02:43 pm
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s351...it's called

s351...it's called grammar,syntax,puctuation-duhh, all those things that make up communication skills.
i think you need some remedial english....what say you???

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 03/04/08 - 02:51 pm
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how do i know what,take a

how do i know what,take a stand??where the hell were you, sitting on the hood?

and btw , before your body appendage goes any deeper in your mouth(you choose the appedage), maybe you would not be so gung ho , if it were your wife ,mother or daughter killed by this sheer stupidity and blind machoism.ther is no justifacation you idiots can dream up that excuses this sort of tragedy in this day and age-none!!
now who's struck?

YankeeGuy
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YankeeGuy 03/04/08 - 02:57 pm
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It was a terrible tragedy for

It was a terrible tragedy for sure. To be pointing fingers and laying the blame on someone before the investigation is complete is ridiculous. Some of you folks have a dislike for law enforcement officials for various reasons. You, your family members or friends probably got caught in an illegal activity and have it out for them. If the investigation finds the deputy completely or even partly responsible, then he should be punished and held accountable for his action. So, all you finger pointers-just shut up and wait. Let the system work.

PLAYLIKETHUNDER4
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PLAYLIKETHUNDER4 03/04/08 - 03:04 pm
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pablanco...i smell barbecue

pablanco...i smell barbecue pork cooking....pig that is......

melmel
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melmel 03/04/08 - 03:06 pm
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Opinionated, and everyone

Opinionated, and everyone else who feels that the police officer needs to be blamed, The police officer had a job to do! I am so sorry that someone was killed BUT, The Police Officer was not the one DISOBEYING THE LAW HERE! I think Mr.Strength will do the right thing no matter if it's election year or not!
I feel for the police officer as well...
Get of it people!

disappointed taxpayer
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disappointed taxpayer 03/04/08 - 03:07 pm
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Richmond county police and

Richmond county police and jail are the worst run Departments in the south. Poor training and they Have no respect for the people they come in contact with!

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