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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jackragg
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jackragg 03/05/08 - 02:13 am
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To all of you complaining

To all of you complaining about Richmond County being the worst it's obvious you've done very little travel.Why no means the best we are by no means the worst.My jobs causes me to spend months in other locales so I'm not talking about a week's vacation where you don't get a chance to get a feel for the aea.Want a police force to your liking?I would say ST Croix USVI would be perfect for ya.I actually got in my car with an open container and a cop waved at me.Cool huh?Not really.The USVIs have over 200 unsolved murders in the last 6 yrs and it's not wise to go out by yourself after dark.And for the guy that says Richmond County is ghetto try getting out of South Augusta every once in a while.

godblessallofus
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godblessallofus 03/05/08 - 09:25 am
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WOW! So much hatred against

WOW! So much hatred against the deputy. First of all god bless the female who lost her life and god bless her family. All agencies have chase policies, when involved in one you must use DUE REGARD!!! If it's called off you back off, if you don't hear it, you don't hear it. Just because you have a tag # you don't have all the info you need because everyone drive other people's vehicles. But if you did have enough info to catch the guy how can you get warrants for a DUI later? You can't not days later. He ran because he was wrong. For the one's who think something is being covered up, cover up what? But when things go wrong who are the first one's you call. You call 911! You need them and you always will. When things go wrong you call them and when you do call them I hope they do their jobs the correct way. God Bless You All!!!!

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