Man shot by police dies

Family and friends of Justin Leonard Elmore gather during a candlelight vigil organized at the site of Sunday's altercation.
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Several gathered at a candlelight vigil Tuesday night at Cherry Tree Crossing public housing complex to mark the death of a man shot Sunday by police during a drug arrest.

While they were singing hymns, however, others began hurling rocks and bottles at sheriff's deputies, who quickly arrested at least three people.

A large police presence of about 90 officers, including 16 Georgia State Patrol troopers, moved in when the crowd grew threatening.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said his officers were prepared for trouble but also wanted to protect the law-abiding people who lived in the housing project.

"Eighty-five percent of the people who live here are good folk," the sheriff said. "We're here to protect them. They want us here."

One officer was taken to the hospital Tuesday night, but the sheriff said it was a separate health issue and not an injury.

The night's confrontations began after news spread of the death of Justin Leonard Elmore. He was taken off life support by his family about 7 p.m., according to a cousin who was at Medical College of Georgia Hospital when he died. Brenda Givens said the family made the decision after doctors determined he was brain dead.

"Everybody is having a hard time with it," she said between sobs during a phone call from the hospital.

Ms. Givens said the family continues to believe the shooting was uncalled for.

"It ain't right," she said.

Police said they shot Mr. Elmore, 23, on Sunday afternoon when he tried to drive his SUV over deputies attempting to stop him on suspected drug charges.

The deputies said they tried to block Mr. Elmore's vehicle with their cars, but he smashed his SUV back and forth into their vehicles to get away. He was shot when it appeared he would run over one of them, they said.

The Sunday incident at Carver Drive and 15th Street almost immediately brought up to 200 people into the street, and many began throwing rocks and bottles at police and later set trash in bins afire.

Many have complained that Mr. Elmore's shooting was unnecessary.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation said Tuesday that it has police car videos of the incident but won't make them public until it concludes its investigation into the shooting.

GBI Special Agent Gary Nicholson said the videos are considered evidence in the investigation of the deputies to determine whether they were justified in shooting Mr. Elmore.

"We have looked at them in detail," Agent Nicholson said. "We cannot release them, but they have been entered as evidence in this case, and as such they are not available for public record at this point in the investigation."

On Monday, Richmond County Sheriff Ronnie Strength said the video appears to show that his officers, Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge, acted appropriately in shooting a man who tried to ram Deputy Ortiz with his SUV. Agent Nicholson said he has watched video from both deputies' patrol cars and that they "accurately show what happened."

The two deputies have been placed on administrative duty pending a GBI review of the case.

Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to call the GBI at (706) 595-2575.

Things remained tense in the housing project, which, with 389 apartments and more than 1,000 residents, is Augusta's largest.

On Monday night, a deputy's patrol car was hit with a bullet. According to sheriff's reports, Cpl. Charles Benson was patrolling in the 1600 block of McCauley Street at 11:30 p.m. when he heard five or six gunshots. The deputy then heard a thump in the rear of his vehicle, where a bullet struck the license plate, the report said.

Staff Writer Greg Gelpi contributed to this report.

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

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TheGeorgian
432
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TheGeorgian 12/17/08 - 12:47 am
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I, for one, do not envy the

I, for one, do not envy the job of being on the police force here or in many places. It's a tough job and I am grateful to the honest, hardworking men and women who keep the peace so that others can sleep securely.

patriciathomas
42
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patriciathomas 12/17/08 - 12:53 am
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The tight shots of the eight

The tight shots of the eight "friends and family" defacing public property is what's referred to as a candle light vigil? If three are arrested for rock and bottle throwing, that leaves five. My question is, is this all that turned out for the vigil and is the Chronicle trying to stir up trouble with this type of sensationalist reporting?

MrsD
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MrsD 12/17/08 - 01:47 am
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That so called "candle light

That so called "candle light vigil" was nothing more than a crowd of fools being ignorant! All that screaming and bottle throwing was nothing more than a bunch of hoodlums trying to get on TV! The women were out there yelling with their YOUNG CHILDREN on their hips -- that is NOT NORMAL. I feel terrible for those children being brought up amongst ignorance like that! God Bless our Sheriff's Deputies for all of their hard work and dedication to serving the public--even those "citizens" were acting like idiots.

TROLLIN247
0
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TROLLIN247 12/17/08 - 02:01 am
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Thank God for the brave men

Thank God for the brave men and women who continue to put their lives on the line in the pursuit of justice. To the Cheery Tree crowd, Get over it. You break the law, you pay the price. Raise your kids to obey the law, not disrespect it. Hell just get jobs and raise your kids to be better adults than most of you are.

TROLLIN247
0
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TROLLIN247 12/17/08 - 02:06 am
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After watching the

After watching the candlelight defacing of Goverment property, I had to come back and ask, How do they afford the cigars and beer they had in the video? This while tax payers give them a place to sleep, food to eat, and a monthly check. What a joke!

sctex
1
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sctex 12/17/08 - 02:36 am
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LBJ's legacy lives on.

LBJ's legacy lives on.

NEone
6
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NEone 12/17/08 - 02:43 am
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I love the video of the young

I love the video of the young female placing her candle. It was so meaningful to her that she was on her cell phone the whole time!

cajunnana2000
2
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cajunnana2000 12/17/08 - 02:49 am
0
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"90 police officers,

"90 police officers, including 16 Georgia State Patrols, moven in when the group got threating"-----Threating to Who, if they were not there but moved in when------Can a group greive in their own way or does it have to be a set way. Sometimes our problems stem from not understanding people who are not like ourselves. I will wait for the video to determine if the shooting was justified, and so should all others that were not there. And most comments that are here are culture bias.

As It Is
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As It Is 12/17/08 - 02:59 am
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I am glad the policy on

I am glad the policy on enforcing the laws changed today when ingroant criminals decided to throw rocks, bottles or any itmes at our fine Deputies and State Patrol Officers. These law enforcement officers are on hand to restore peace and order and should not have policies restraining them from arresting those who are disorderly or cause problems. The Sheriff is correct in stating that more than 85% of the residents are good people who may be having hard times in their lives, etc. but they aren't criminals. The other 15% along with the thugs that come to the area to be a part of gripping headlines are the trouble makers that need to be arrested and removed from the property. The good citizens who wish to obey the laws of the state and country deserve to be able to roam about freely without having to be asked if they want to buy drugs, guns or feel intimidated or threatned. They should feel safe and secure in allowing their kids outside to play and their youth on the basketball courts without gang members approaching them. However, they also must respect and teach respect for law enforcement and support them fully and openly when they are trying to serve and protect the area.

As It Is
2
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As It Is 12/17/08 - 03:10 am
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AC...the gripping headline

AC...the gripping headline should read, Criminal ramming police in his car dies from shooting. I doubt many wish he was shot dead but HE PLACED HIMSELF in this position, then HE DECIDED not to stop for the police the HE RAMMED POLICE CARS in and effort to escape and then HE THREATENED THE LIFE OF A RICHMOND COUNTY DEPUTY forcing the deputy to respond with lethal force which unfortunatley resulted in his death. The "real story" here however, is the response of the communtiy going off half cocked on rumors and no matter what, supporting a known criminal over two Deputy Sheriff's simply doing their job. Some leaders in the community did go on TV and support the Police today although the AC has failed to cover this appropraitely. I am sure many more support the efforts of these officers and all police but simply are scared of that 15% bad element living in the area. Rightfully so I suppose if deputies driving by patrolling the area to keep it safe are now being shot at by those living in the community. The housing project belongs to the tax payers and therefore should be subject to search at any time. Begin random searches for weapons and drugs now and arrest the criminals.

ispeakadatruth
0
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ispeakadatruth 12/17/08 - 03:23 am
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RIP...i mean RIHell thug!

RIP...i mean RIHell thug!

As It Is
2
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As It Is 12/17/08 - 03:52 am
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12 year old boy in Columbia

12 year old boy in Columbia County throws a rock at a patrol car and is immediately arrested (as he should be) and charged with terroristic threats and criminal interference with government property. Meanwhile much older thugs and criminals throw rocks and bottles at Richmond County Deputies and even shoot at and hit a patrol car and the only outrage from the neighboring community is that some of them were arrested for "venting" because a repeat offending criminal breaking the law and threatning the lives of police officers and the community was killed by an officer in the line of duty. Maybe if Richmond County would add the 50 needed officers and begin heavily patrolling troubled areas they could aprehend these youths at a much younger age and potentially solve many problems as they have been solved in Columbia County. At the very least, the "citizens" will know at a very early age that if you don't respect law enforcement the consequences for your actions will be swift and severe - as they should be!!

ispeakadatruth
0
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ispeakadatruth 12/17/08 - 04:40 am
0
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a big difference between RCSO

a big difference between RCSO and the CCSO is the use of available resources. for example CCSO has dogs on duty on every shift. RCSO has dogs, but rarely use them for patrol duties. in fact there is only one true patrol dog at the RCSO and it's allocated to the CST (a dog is what was used in CC to track the kid that threw the rock). RCSO has also limited what the CST duties are and cut their numbers. instead of heavy patrol like they did 10 years ago, they now do BS work that serves no real purpose. RC and CC crime has gone through the roof, but it's how the crime is tackled that makes the difference. the RCSO is confused on what their priorities should be. they are going to calls that could easily be handled over the phone or by other means. this is 2008 sheriff strength, it's time to change the police techniques that were fine in the 70's and 80's.

ispeakadatruth
0
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ispeakadatruth 12/17/08 - 04:43 am
0
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NEone - she had to call her

NEone - she had to call her friend girl and tell her to watch for her on the news tonight.

Dodarighthang
0
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Dodarighthang 12/17/08 - 05:29 am
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"ISPEAKADATRUTH" You have to

"ISPEAKADATRUTH" You have to be kidding!!!! YOUSPEAKADALIE!!! God decides who goes to heaven and hell. NOT YOU!! HE decides. Who are you to say Rest in Hell. People like you are resting in hell already by judging other people. Leave judgement up to God and if and when you get to hell, discuss it down there. For now SHUTUP!!!!!

Taharqa
0
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Taharqa 12/17/08 - 05:40 am
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man , i have heard nothing

man , i have heard nothing but negativity, and white people wonder why black people can't stand them. this guy died, he might have not have been the best of citizens , but to just talk down on someone in their death who you don't know from a hole in the wall shows the racial divide. i am so glad i don't live in augusta anymore, a bunch of backwards redneck , racists with predictable opinions.

Taharqa
0
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Taharqa 12/17/08 - 05:43 am
0
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there is so much negativity

there is so much negativity on this forum , you think the guy that died must have robbed everyone posting at some point.

Taharqa
0
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Taharqa 12/17/08 - 05:46 am
0
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There needs to be some kind

There needs to be some kind of community outreach through the police department, because is this really necessary. Instead of going to these low income communities to arrest someone all the time , how about the police recruit in these areas, and hold community programs to help the youth , and to show the youth that the police are not against them , but there to help.

Taharqa
0
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Taharqa 12/17/08 - 05:47 am
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Until there is some sort of

Until there is some sort of dialogue between the people in these areas , and the police , there will continue to be sinceless acts of violence and big misunderstandings between these communities and the officers assigned to patrol these areas.

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 12/17/08 - 05:56 am
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patricia...don't blame the

patricia...don't blame the Chronicle they are just doing their just like the Deputies..no more, no less

politicallyNcorrect1
0
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politicallyNcorrect1 12/17/08 - 06:00 am
0
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Yes a lot of these people

Yes a lot of these people hate the law but when something happens.who do they call? Well it's not Ghost Busters

white_trash
0
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white_trash 12/17/08 - 06:00 am
0
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Seems to me he may have been

Seems to me he may have been "brain dead" already to attempt to run over the cops.

fht610
1
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fht610 12/17/08 - 06:08 am
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Taharqa: That dialogue should

Taharqa: That dialogue should start with the words "Don't move, you are under arrest." If the police shoot one low life career criminal per day, how long would it take before there would be a noticeable reduction in crime???
On the positive side, the taxpayers won't have to house and feed this piece of trash and his progeny for the next 50 years...

gapeach08
0
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gapeach08 12/17/08 - 06:11 am
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Its sad and ashame how the

Its sad and ashame how the Richmond County police department treat people from these areas. I know because I am from the projects. We are all stereotyped and disrespected. Richmond County does not care about all citizens and this and other incidents support why I feel this way. Ronald Strength is like a parent who will not admit when your child has done something wrong. Its so sad. I really do see why people do not respect and has extreme hate for the black and gray. I feel we should contact the Naacp like the Jena 6 case. Something is going to have to change. I just wish the term"Justice is blind" were meant for African Americans in underprivileged communities. I hate to even say I reside in Richmond County where I pay tax payer money to have these same people who is paid to serve and protect instead are violating these same laws and rights they should be upholding. And this is to the black officer involved, How does it feel to be liiked at as a"House Negro" to your community. Your mother must be proud.

55 F-100
1
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55 F-100 12/17/08 - 06:19 am
0
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Candlelight vigil, singing

Candlelight vigil, singing hymns, graffiti tributes on public property to a career criminal maggot thug, and throwing rocks and bottles at Law Enforcement..........If's that not the spirit of Christmas??????? Justin Elmore died as a brain dead thug because he lived his life as a brain dead thug. To try to portray his demise as anything other than a criminal whos was killed in a stolen SUV, containing drugs, and attempting to injure/kill Law Enforcement with the SUV is moronic. And to Taharqa, we're also glad that you don't live in Augusta anymore, because you would probably be another misguided "mourner" with the others in the Cherry Hill zoo!!!

jess394
0
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jess394 12/17/08 - 06:24 am
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Thank God for the citizens

Thank God for the citizens who actually have some sense and see the horrible behavior of these people living in our "government housing". It is very sad that the life of this young man was cut short but his ACTIONS caused his own fate. While the deputies goal in stopping him was not to cause him harm but rather to get the stolen vehicle, guns and other items away from him.... wonder how these same critical people would feel if it were thier car that was stolen- or thier mother, child or spouse that was going to be run over. Yelling Im sure that the PO-lice needed to protect them. somep poeple will never be happy. I am proud of our Sheriff for taking a stand in stopping the rioting- take them to jail and show them they cant act like that. Our law enforcement men and women are fathers, mothers, children and spouses as well and yet they are out there putting their lives on the line to protect us. The people in that neighborhood need to get a grip and rather than teach the children to respond in rioting- show them that every behavior has a consequence and not to break the law to begin with. further- those caught in the rioting should lose thier government housing.

sctex
1
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sctex 12/17/08 - 06:26 am
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gapeach08 I feel sorry for

gapeach08 I feel sorry for you. I hope that one day you will break free of that victim mentality and become a happy person. To you and everyone Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and God Bless America!

DodgeD50
0
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DodgeD50 12/17/08 - 06:27 am
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Ignorance is temporary stupid

Ignorance is temporary stupid is forever. Elmore chose his lifes path and now he has paid the ultimate price the eternal dirt nap.

Scottskart
19
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Scottskart 12/17/08 - 06:30 am
0
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Gapeach08, please..... You

Gapeach08, please..... You sound like your typical "victim". It amazes me how this is the fault of the deputies and the RCSD. If Mr. Elmore had not tried to run from the police, none of this would have happened. Plain and simple.

It makes me sick that people like you- they HAVE to protect.

sctex
1
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sctex 12/17/08 - 06:31 am
0
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These people in this project

These people in this project like all the others are victims of LBJ's Civil Rights Act.

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