Child witnessed police shooting

Police video shows the shooting of Justin Elmore in December 2008.
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The Georgia Bureau of Investigation interviewed many witnesses after the police shooting of Justin Elmore, but the account provided by an 8-year-old girl seemed most closely to mirror what was seen in police car videos.

The child's statement was in the agency's investigative report shared Tuesday with the Richmond County grand jury. The jury did not indict two sheriff deputies for any criminal charge.

The report was released Wednesday through an Open Records request. It reveals both Deputies Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge fired their weapons at Mr. Elmore the afternoon of Dec. 14. The deputies fired eight times total. Mr. Elmore, 23, was shot once in the head.

District Attorney Ashley Wright said the bullets were too misshapen for any confirmable ballistic comparison, but from the angle of the shot and the position of the officers, it is logical to believe Deputy Ortiz fired the fatal shot.

Two of the bullets fired by the officers pierced the front door and window of the apartment where the 8-year-old lived with her parents and baby brother. When the shooting began, the child was a few yards from her front door.

Three days later she told GBI agents that she saw the police had an SUV pulled over on Carver Drive. She saw the vehicle back up and hit the bumper of a sheriff's car, according to her statement. As the SUV pulled forward and jumped the curb, the officers started shooting, she told the GBI agents.

Deputies Ortiz and Hodge also told GBI agents that they shot at the SUV when the driver accelerated forward and jumped the curb.

Deputy Ortiz, who was in front of the SUV, told the GBI that he thought the driver was going to run him over. He fired at the car as he tried to get out of its path, he said. Deputy Hodge, who was approaching the SUV from the rear, said he fired when he saw the vehicle headed toward the grass area where he saw Deputy Ortiz.

The deputies wanted to stop the SUV because of a tip from a confidential informant. Deputy Hodge told the GBI agents he got a call from a regular informant that afternoon.

The informant told GBI agents that he had had contact that day with the driver of a newer model, black SUV Suburban with tinted windows. Four men were in the car, as were guns and marijuana, the informant said.

Mr. Elmore was driving a black Suburban with deeply tinted windows and a paper tag. After the shooting, officers discovered Mr. Elmore was alone in the vehicle with just more than 15 grams of marijuana and 30 rounds of ammunition, according to the GBI report.

Ms. Wright said Wednesday that the SUV belonged to Mr. Elmore's brother who had bought it two days before the shooting.

The investigation didn't reveal who might have been with Mr. Elmore before the shooting. There is a 20- to 30-minute time lapse between when the informant saw Mr. Elmore and when he called Deputy Hodge, the informant said.

The GBI report didn't address why Mr. Elmore might have been in the Cherry Tree Crossing public housing complex the afternoon he was shot. The agents later collected his clothing, $825 in cash, and items such as lip balm, a cell phone and a folding knife.

The GBI was called in to take over the investigation of the shooting. When agents arrived at the scene about an hour later, a large crowd had gathered. Some people were throwing rocks, bottles and bricks at the officers, the GBI report reads.

The GBI agents talked with about 19 potential witnesses over the next few days. Most only saw what happened after the shots were fired.

Two women who told GBI agents they were eyewitnesses gave disturbing accounts that are contradicted by the videos.

One woman told agents she was sitting on her front porch when Mr. Elmore was pulled over right in front of her apartment. She said Mr. Elmore was boxed in by the patrol cars and never moved before the officers started shooting.

A second woman who was in the convenience store directly across from the spot where the SUV came to rest told agents that Deputies Ortiz and Hodges repeatedly shot at the SUV after it came to a stop and that the officers shot two people in the SUV.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

VIDEO

Elmore Shooting Video


Reaction from Residents


Watch the full police videos at the following addresses:


Car 1


Car 2

Comments (236) Add comment
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Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 01:46 am
0
0
Nice to know that youth's

Nice to know that youth's within the community not blinded by prejudice, ignorance, hatred or anything else simply tell the truth and support the police officers who were doing their jobs. If this entire community would support the police over gun toting drug selling thugs then maybe they would live in a safer and better community and allow their children to grow up in a drug free safe environment in which they could study harder, get an education and better theirselves. Those who support repeated drug dealers over law enforcement officers on a daily basis, no matter what the issue, are doing a grave injustice to the childern of the entire area.

twman
0
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twman 05/07/09 - 04:16 am
0
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I really hope that the

I really hope that the GBI,charges those "eyewitnessses" with giving false imformation.

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 05/07/09 - 04:22 am
0
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Sounds like a lot of posters

Sounds like a lot of posters from yesterday will be eating crow today. All the speculation about who owned the SUV, was there a kid in the car, ect. This report makes true the saying about the truth setting you free. I would fear for the young girls safety given the mob mentality displayed after the shootings down there. Her inability to lie to fit the hate for law enforcement these 'victums' seem to have that is behind all that non-sense might make her a target. Funny how the older 'witnesses' have conflicting stories and they both conflict with the video.

Riverman1
86921
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Riverman1 05/07/09 - 04:59 am
0
0
I agree if any witnesses made

I agree if any witnesses made false statements they should be jailed. Those two women sound like they were lying. Everyone's story should be checked against the videos. I'm in total agreement with the video and the child's account. The SUV "backed up and hit the bumper." That's not ramming by any definition. Plus, she said, "As the SUV pulled forward and jumped the curb, the officers started shooting," she told the GBI agents. So Elmore pulled up on the sidewalk and grass away from Ortiz who was in the street shooting in the side window where the bullets continued into the apartment? That version totally corroborates what I was saying yesterday.

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 05/07/09 - 05:08 am
0
0
RM1, and he was totally

RM1, and he was totally justified in shooting given the fact he became a threat as soon as the vehicle was put into motion. So you now see and agree that it was justified, glad to know that you put your personal hate for the Sheriff aside and allowed the facts to speak for themselves in this case. I am very proud of you.

55 F-100
1
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55 F-100 05/07/09 - 05:10 am
0
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"Out of the mouths of babes",

"Out of the mouths of babes", "a witness with no personal agenda", and "person of integrity" are the phrases that come to mind when describing the 8 year old witness. Good for you, young lady, to be such a strong, honest person at such a young age.

LEO
0
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LEO 05/07/09 - 05:32 am
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I spoke with several of the

I spoke with several of the deputies who were staged in the area of CTC yesterday. They said that the residents were thankful for the police presence these last two days because they did not want a repeat of the December chaos stirred up by the Rev. Al Sharpton and the New Black Panther party. Just a little advice for the Augusta Chronicle - let this issue rest. It's looking more and more like the paper is writing inflammatory stories to 'make' news, or in the hopes that the national media will pick up their coverage. Irresponsible, but typical, in my opinion.

NANF
4
Points
NANF 05/07/09 - 06:25 am
0
0
The newspaper stirs up more

The newspaper stirs up more crap and corruption than most any incident causes in itself. Editors think people will continue to read their sloppy reporting forever. Well, hello, mr. editor, your loosing your behind faster each day and it isn't all because of the so call " economy". It's because people are tired of your twisting each story in to something it is not. I haven't bought an Augusta paper in probably 5 years because there is just no truth in it.
The problem at Cherry Tree Crossing needs to be dropped out of the paper and let the people there go on with their lives. Proof that there are good people there comes in the form of a little girl that was willing to tell the truth of what she saw. NOW, leave it alone.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 05/07/09 - 06:47 am
0
0
You can imagine how much
Unpublished

You can imagine how much credibility the little girl's recounting of events would have had had she NOT have agreed with the police version...

SCGAL53
0
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SCGAL53 05/07/09 - 06:48 am
0
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I hope this child and the

I hope this child and the family will receive protection from the thugs that are making Elmore a hero.

pantherluvcik
628
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pantherluvcik 05/07/09 - 06:50 am
0
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Though he did back up and

Though he did back up and pull forward the deputy was not directly in front of the vehicle. Looks to me like he pulled forward and went on the grass to go around. I am in no way saying that he did the right thing by doing that at all. He was wrong on so many levels, but I can't believe from watching this video that he intended harm to the officers. They are trained and should have fired less lethal shots and hit the tires. They fired to hit him and it was not their only option. And their reckless firing could have killed that honest little girl when they fired in her house. I have nothing against the police, but this could have went a different route, one that didn't result in loss of life.

mandyme
0
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mandyme 05/07/09 - 06:53 am
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As a citizen of this

As a citizen of this community, I applaud the actions of the police officers in their efforts to keep our city safe. This person driving the SUV not only posed a threat to the officers involved but to the children ( and others ) playing and walking about Cherry Tree Crossing. When you chose not listen to the police officer when he tells you to "STOP" "HALT" "DONT MOVE"....how can anything good come from that. Your actions will develope your fate. Nuf said.

pantherluvcik
628
Points
pantherluvcik 05/07/09 - 06:56 am
0
0
And absolutely nobody in that

And absolutely nobody in that neighborhood or otherwise would hurt that child for telling the truth, i don't believe that would happen. This is not television and these people aren't that evil.

AreUSerious
0
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AreUSerious 05/07/09 - 06:57 am
0
0
ok i remember the police

ok i remember the police saying also he ram the police car with his suv i didn't see none of that.

kware719
0
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kware719 05/07/09 - 07:01 am
0
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From looking at the video,

From looking at the video, Elmore did not look like he was about to hit the officers. He backed up to jump the curve. But hey thats the justice system, Richmond County's finest. They did not have to shoot him. Cops around here and everywhere are too trigger happy.

andywarhol
0
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andywarhol 05/07/09 - 07:02 am
0
0
AreUSerious is another racist

AreUSerious is another racist that for some reason also can barely speak English. Why is it Elmore's supporters all have the same common denominator?

AreUSerious
0
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AreUSerious 05/07/09 - 07:02 am
0
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ok and they are lying i was

ok and they are lying i was in the army and i know they shot more then 8 rounds come on who are ya'll fooling..he should've stop but i see lies and i don't believe the police one bit because on the news his family stated his body was filll with bullet holes and the back of his head was shot off.

LEO
0
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LEO 05/07/09 - 07:03 am
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AreUSerious, are you

AreUSerious, are you serious???

TroubIe
0
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TroubIe 05/07/09 - 07:06 am
0
0
i didnt see anywhere in the

i didnt see anywhere in the video where you cab see where the deputy was standing when the vehicle started forward, you poeple are making alot of assumptions based on where he was standing when you were able to see him, if a suv were comming at me, i would get the heck out of the way quickly.....

TroubIe
0
Points
TroubIe 05/07/09 - 07:08 am
0
0
his family was to busy trying

his family was to busy trying to incite riots to bother telling the truth

braxtonbragg
0
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braxtonbragg 05/07/09 - 07:11 am
0
0
areU serious, lovuc, kware,

areU serious, lovuc, kware, fd1962---black idiots who just prove the fact, "you can't cure stupid" with their every post.

TroubIe
0
Points
TroubIe 05/07/09 - 07:14 am
0
0
morning braxton

morning braxton

AreUSerious
0
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AreUSerious 05/07/09 - 07:16 am
0
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i'm white u morons and guess

i'm white u morons and guess what they had no right to shoot that boy far as i can see..think about it the same week a white guy stole beer from a store...ok and the officer stops the white guy ok...now the white guy pulls off with the officer holding on to the car why wasn't this white guy shot the same way as this black guy? ya'll crazy race has everything to do with why they kill this boy

TroubIe
0
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TroubIe 05/07/09 - 07:18 am
0
0
areuserious, being white dont

areuserious, being white dont make you exempt from being racist againts other whites

AreUSerious
0
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AreUSerious 05/07/09 - 07:19 am
0
0
we all know the police will

we all know the police will tell a child some and they will go alone with it so i don't even buy that story..because we all can see that truck did not ram that police car.

Nammy3
0
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Nammy3 05/07/09 - 07:21 am
0
0
Stop the race baiting,

Stop the race baiting, AreUSerious! (Quite possibly they didn't have a "tip" of drugs and guns on this white dude you speak of?) And you can TOO see that the SUV hit the police car....(@ exactly :46)....watch the damn camera! instead of the "action" on screen...if you have to, view it full screen as many times as it takes for you to also, see it!

AreUSerious
0
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AreUSerious 05/07/09 - 07:22 am
0
0
pantherluvcik i agree 100%

pantherluvcik i agree 100% with u and these crazy ppl don't see that..all lies the video is right in ya'll face and ya'll still think it was ok to kill this boy?

TroubIe
0
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TroubIe 05/07/09 - 07:22 am
0
0
ok, so now we have the child

ok, so now we have the child "going alone" (what ever that means) with the evidence, therefore, she must be lying, so does that make the 2 womens accounts the truth?

pantherluvcik
628
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pantherluvcik 05/07/09 - 07:22 am
0
0
mandyme, you mean to tell me

mandyme, you mean to tell me the wreckless actions of these officers were safe for everyone in the community. They could have killed that little girl with all those stray shots that went in her house. Would you be saying that then?

andywarhol
0
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andywarhol 05/07/09 - 07:23 am
0
0
Translation: Do you realize

Translation: Do you realize the police will persuade the child to say certain things, and child will go along with what he/she is told. I don't believe the story, because I didn't see that truck ram the police car. AreUSerious, did you get kicked out of the Army? Did you make it through basic training? Were you able to read the enlistment contract, or did the recruiter read it to you, and just had you sign your name with an X?

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