2 officers won't be charged

Police video shows the shooting of Justin Elmore in December 2008.
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The neighborhoods in and around Augusta's Cherry Tree Crossing housing project remained quiet Tuesday night after a grand jury's decision not to indict two Richmond County sheriff's deputies who fatally shot a man there in December.

Several days of civil unrest followed the Dec. 14 shooting of Justin Elmore, 23, killed by police when they said he tried to run one of them down with his SUV.

A heavy police presence involving several agencies surrounded the neighborhoods off 15th Street late Tuesday, and both authorities and Cherry Tree residents said they expected things to remain calm.

District Attorney Ashley Wright said the grand jury's decision essentially ends the possibility of prosecution of Deputies Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge. She said the "no bill" means that at least 12 members found no probable cause the deputies committed a criminal act.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he was pleased with the decision and urged others to view the police dashboard-camera videotapes of the shooting before passing judgment on the grand jury's decision. He said the film shows his deputies' lives were in danger.

"That was the threat," he said. "We hope people do sit back -- study the tapes."

The sheriff also met Tuesday with community leaders including state Rep. Henry Howard, longtime Paine College educator Mallory Millender and Barbara Gordon, publisher and editor of the Metro Courier newspaper.

The shooting of Mr. Elmore provoked several days of unrest in mid-December as hundreds protested in and around the complex off 15th Street. The Rev. Al Sharpton preached at his funeral, urging calm, but afterward many took to the streets, including members of the New Black Panther Party, who brandished guns as police looked on.

The Elmore case was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Ms. Wright presented the results of its investigation to the grand jury Tuesday.

The panel, which met behind closed doors, began hearing evidence at 9 a.m., and witnesses testified until at least 3 p.m. It finished work about 4 p.m. on the shooting case, the only one before grand jurors all day.

According to the district attorney, the grand jury had a murder indictment for consideration. Its duty was to decide whether there was an unlawful, intentional killing, Ms. Wright said.

The grand jury could have indicted the deputies on another charge, such as manslaughter or reckless conduct, and chose not to. Ms. Wright said the grand jury can charge any crime supported by the facts.

Both officers attended the grand jury hearing, a practice allowed for any law enforcement officer or public official who could face criminal indictment. The law allows the officer or official to make a statement, too.

Witnesses included GBI agents, a narcotics officer and at least one expert on law enforcement training in the use of deadly force.

Ms. Wright said she could not discuss the evidence presented because grand jury proceedings are secret.

While the officers and their attorneys could attend the portion during which witnesses testified, no one other than the jurors may be present during the deliberations of the grand jury, Ms. Wright said.

Although details described to grand jurors remain secret, police accounts in December said the deputies were responding to a tip about a man with drugs and weapons in an SUV. They used their patrol cars to box in Mr. Elmore's vehicle in the Cherry Tree Crossing housing complex.

As Deputy Ortiz approached from the front on foot, Mr. Elmore put his SUV in reverse, rammed Deputy Hodge's car and drove toward Deputy Ortiz.

Mr. Elmore was shot. He was taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where he died several days later when his family asked that he be taken off life support.

Reach Sandy Hodson and Adam Folk at (706) 724-0851.

MORE VIDEO

Watch the full police videos at the following addresses:


Car 1


Car 2

TUESDAY AT CHERRY TREE

Though the angry crowds that gathered after Justin Elmore's shooting in December did not regroup after Tuesday's grand jury news, some residents at Cherry Tree Crossing did express disagreement with the decision.

"There should have been murder charges," said Sha'keela McNair, who soon will give birth to Mr. Elmore's twin boys.

Click here to watch a video of residents' responses on Tuesday.

THE BACKSTORY

THE INCIDENT: On Dec. 14, 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. Police said Mr. Elmore rammed Deputy Hodge's car and drove toward Deputy Ortiz. Mr. Elmore was shot and later died.

THE AFTERMATH

- Angry over the shooting, some people hurled rocks and bottles at Richmond County sheriff's deputies as a crowd of about 200 gathered Dec. 14 at the development off 15th Street.

- On Dec. 16, Mr. Elmore was taken off life support at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

- On Dec. 23, about 200 people marched through Cherry Tree in a demonstration against police brutality, led by gun-toting members of the New Black Panthers Party's Augusta chapter.

-- Edited from staff reports

PREVIOUS STORIES

Elmore had history of arrests

Investigations of shootings involving officers continue - Mar. 14

GBI, District attorney talk Elmore shooting - Feb. 4

200 march after Elmore's funeral - Dec. 23

SUV in shooting wasn't stolen - Dec. 20

Damaged car camera elicits help from FBI - Dec. 18

Man shot by police dies [VIDEO] - Dec. 17

Sheriff defends deputies [VIDEO] - Dec. 16

Shooting recalls 1998 case - Dec. 16

Residents' anger boils at police - Dec. 16

Angry crowd confronts police at housing project shooting scene - Dec. 14

Comments (230) Add comment
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EARL84
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EARL84 05/06/09 - 02:01 pm
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and you don't remove manny's

and you don't remove manny's comment....

Georgiais1
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Georgiais1 05/06/09 - 02:02 pm
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It boils down to most thugs

It boils down to most thugs are going to side with the perp in this case and most law abiding citizens will side with the law. There it is in a nut shell.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/06/09 - 02:05 pm
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This is rediculous. All these

This is rediculous. All these remarks being wiped are not a violation of the AC policy. I know mine weren't. What's the matter AC? Afraid of people having an honest discussion of race relations in Augusta? There were no slams racial or otherwise in my comments.

swopslash
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swopslash 05/06/09 - 02:13 pm
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Nice job RCPD.

Nice job RCPD.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/06/09 - 02:14 pm
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I mean, tonyt15street's 11:46

I mean, tonyt15street's 11:46 comment could be considered inflamatory and hate speech if you are in law enforcement. So could many666legion's 1:50.

olmarine
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olmarine 05/06/09 - 02:19 pm
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A career criminal from a

A career criminal from a career criminal family, a drug dealer, fleeing from police. He did what for his community? He did what for his family? He did what for the bastard children he had with different welfare queens?
He won't be missed.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/06/09 - 02:22 pm
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olmarine, what he did for the

olmarine, what he did for the community is to show his brother the thug life which after seeing him in one of the news clips he embraced very well.

rufus
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rufus 05/06/09 - 02:35 pm
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Sorry, I forgot they are all

Sorry, I forgot they are all welfare brood mares and lazy baby daddy's that don't work in the first place

whogivesarip
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whogivesarip 05/06/09 - 02:36 pm
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there is one thing for sure

there is one thing for sure in this case -- jed wont be around to do it again -- justice served!!

rayray
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rayray 05/06/09 - 02:37 pm
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my son is a richmond county

my son is a richmond county cop.if someone is coming towards him with a weapon,like an suv..he better shoot..all elmore had to do was pull over and he would have gone to jail where he had been many times before..these cops did not know if he had a gun in the vehicle or not...on the other hand elmore knew that the cops had guns..may be a lesson for ones who want to run from the law..they have guns and are not afraid to use them when necessary!!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/06/09 - 02:40 pm
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I missed the part of the

I missed the part of the video where the police car was rammed. Anyone catch it?

olmarine
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olmarine 05/06/09 - 02:44 pm
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OK AC, try this.....he wrote

OK AC, try this.....he wrote his own death sentence by the life he lived. He is not missed.

chey
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chey 05/06/09 - 02:59 pm
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how did my comment violate

how did my comment violate the comments policy, it wasn't offensive.... dang AC... just remove all comments and shut off access to create comments ....

andywarhol
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andywarhol 05/06/09 - 03:04 pm
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All of you getting your

All of you getting your comments deleted; stick around and pay attention. Only racist posts towards whites are allowed. I've pointed out many times that cracker, whitey, whiteboy, etc. won't get deleted even when used in a negative manner.

JENASIX
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JENASIX 05/06/09 - 03:10 pm
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To all you hill billies who

To all you hill billies who defended the two deputies killing and elected Sheriff Ronnie Strength.He need to be oust and replace because he is a red neck. It will be like deja vu when one of your family member are murdered by a police officers.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/06/09 - 03:14 pm
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Jenasix - don't break the law

Jenasix - don't break the law and follow the lawful orders of the police officers and you won't have to worry about being "murdered" by the POlice.

Lippy
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Lippy 05/06/09 - 03:14 pm
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Jena Six - First, I don't

Jena Six - First, I don't have to worry about myself or a family member being "murdered" by police officers. If we are pulled over we aren't stupid enough to run from them. Secondly, Elmore wasn't murdered. He was stopped. Take your hatred and racism elsewhere.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/06/09 - 03:15 pm
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Dang andywarhol - you are

Dang andywarhol - you are right, you got away with all those slams against whites.

andywarhol
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andywarhol 05/06/09 - 03:16 pm
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We don't defend criminal in

We don't defend criminal in my family. They are an embarrassment to the rest of us and get their just do also. You assume wrongly JENASIX. I have criminals in my family and they are rotting in jail where they belong. The same place Elmo should've been.

overburdened_taxpayer
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overburdened_taxpayer 05/06/09 - 03:16 pm
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TheShep - we are conversing

TheShep - we are conversing in an adult way. The AC is being OVER-sensitive today for some reason.

Ode to Augusta
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Ode to Augusta 05/06/09 - 03:24 pm
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Bottom line is if you obey

Bottom line is if you obey the law then you won't get arrested and you certainly won't get shot and killed by law enforcement. All the thugs, thug wannabes, baby mommas, black panther party members, bible spouting hypocrites that who lie, cheat, steal and cheat on their spouses and and have children out of wedlock (can I get an amen Jesse Jackson!) are going to continue to get killed as we law abiding citizens are fed up with you and your illegal ways and are buying up guns, ammo, and getting concealed weapon permits at an encouraging rate.

apex24
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apex24 05/06/09 - 03:41 pm
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Constituent, when your 15% of

Constituent, when your 15% of the population and commit 78% of the crime as blacks do, guess who will also get shot more  during crimes. It has nothing to do with officers not shooting whites for crimes. If an officer is threatened he will fire his/her weapon regardless of color.

andywarhol
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andywarhol 05/06/09 - 03:58 pm
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Why is it that when someone

Why is it that when someone doesn't defend Elmo that they're a racist? Did anyone catch the comment from the African American person on here that said the shooting was justified, and he doesn't condone anything Elmore does? Why is it that if a black person doesn't act like Elmore and defend his type that their sell outs, Uncle Toms, or slaves to whitey? This mentality is holding back good young black people from advancement, because if they shed the hood mentality they are looked down upon.

Riverman1
93725
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Riverman1 05/06/09 - 04:18 pm
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I think the board needs a

I think the board needs a stress test today.

braxtonbragg
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braxtonbragg 05/06/09 - 04:25 pm
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Very fine use of a 40 cal

Very fine use of a 40 cal round.

rayray
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rayray 05/06/09 - 04:36 pm
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hoping things remain peaceful

hoping things remain peaceful downtown...

LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 05/06/09 - 04:50 pm
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the truth hurts!!

the truth hurts!!

LadyCisback
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LadyCisback 05/06/09 - 04:53 pm
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for once I speak the truth

for once I speak the truth and my comment is removed.. where is the logic in that!!

cparker
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cparker 05/06/09 - 05:19 pm
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apex24... Where did you get

apex24... Where did you get your statistics. It is no secret I believe you are racist and childish. Prove that blacks commit 78% of crimes. I know you are not going to prove this because you are racist liar!! You never made one comment last month when your white cousins killed their neighbor. There is no statistic that will prove blacks commit 78% of crime in the US. I am waiting, you disgussing white liar!!

FallingLeaves
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FallingLeaves 05/06/09 - 05:43 pm
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Riverman1 There are two

Riverman1 There are two angles of the police car getting hit. First angle: the SUV backs right into the officer's car behind him and then pulls forward shown by one angle of another police car. Then the other video shows the angle from the rammed police car's own camera as the SUV backs into it. You can even see the picture jarred on impact before the SUV switches into forward again. How many more angles do you need?

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