Police instructor insists 'it was the only option'

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Law enforcement officers spend many hours in training before they can carry a gun, said a training expert who testified before the Richmond County grand jury this week.

How and when to use deadly force is drummed into the heads of recruits because if they do fire their weapons, it will likely be a decision made in a matter of seconds and they will be responsible for every bullet fired, said Al Williams.

Mr. Williams is an instructor for the certified police training program at Augusta Technical College. He has worked in and taught law enforcement for more than 15 years.

He said he firmly believes Richmond County sheriff's Deputies Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge were justified in firing on Justin Elmore on Dec. 14 at the Cherry Tree Crossing public housing complex.

An officer has the legal right and a duty to eliminate or neutralize a threat, and an SUV is a 5,000-pound threat when it is advancing toward you, Mr. Williams said Wednesday, a day after a Richmond County grand jury cleared both deputies.

The reasonableness of the officers' actions should be judged through all of the facts surrounding what happened that afternoon, Mr. Williams said.

- There was a reliable tip that four men were in the vehicle with weapons and drugs.

- The window tint was so dark the officers couldn't see inside the vehicle.

- As soon as officers approached the SUV on foot, the driver started to move the SUV.

When the SUV accelerated toward Deputy Ortiz he would have no doubt Mr. Elmore was a danger to him and to anyone else in the immediate area, Mr. Williams said.

The shot or shots the deputy fired from the side of the SUV were justified because Mr. Elmore was still a threat to others, Mr. Williams said.

"It was the only option the officer had," Mr. Williams said.

The most dangerous duties officers have are pulling over vehicles, searching warehouses and responding to domestic violence calls, he said.

Deputy Ortiz's retrieval of an assault weapon from the trunk of his car after the SUV came to a stop was appropriate, Mr. Williams said. The officers had their weapons drawn on a vehicle they couldn't see inside, a vehicle they thought could contain four men with access to weapons, he said.

An officer has to stay one step ahead of a suspect and base the use of force on the resistance shown, he said.

"If we're 50-50, we're losing," Mr. Williams said.

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

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Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 03:03 pm
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Jackfruit: To answer your

Jackfruit: To answer your question, law enforcement officers are instructed to shoot the target until the threat is stopped. Generally speaking, a minimum of two shots to the chest would go along with training. You would have to be a superior marksman with exceptional equipment in a perfect environment to achieve wounding effectively to stop a threat. And, as for shooting the tires, that is just laughable and completely non-effective. If you watch the video, you will see that you can not even see inside the vehicle therefore the threat is the driver and until he stops as ordered, he is the threat and the shooting should by training continue. Frankly, they would be justified to have continued shooting according to their training. The real training needs to start at home where people need to learn to obey laws, respect authority and accept responsibility for their actions. The police are 99% of the time merely responding to YOUR actions therefore, the ball is in your court as to the outcome. Your questions are logical and you did not criticize the police, which is good. Many will never understand what an officer has to go through, even in a justifiable shoot.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 03:10 pm
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Justice4, you are and

Justice4, you are and continue to be a race baiting lying non factual poster. Not one thing you have said can be backed up by anything including the fact that the grand jury was comprised of males and females who were black, white and Asian and apparently have common sense. Go get ANY police instructor you want and you will get pretty much the same answers. It wouldn’t matter what anyone had to say or what the video shows because the hatred you spew against whites, the government and police in general ensures us that your mind was made up before Elmore even turned into the projects with a ½ pound of marijuana in his vehicle.

change display name
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change display name 05/07/09 - 03:30 pm
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Justus--you are a moron. I'm

Justus--you are a moron. I'm sorry, a racist moron. A racist, child-molester-loving, "Clearance Thomas" (Uncle Tom) hating, moron. Children give credible testimony against child molesters all the time. Should we ignore their statements and let the abusres go free? Obvioulsy, you think we should. Alfonzo is a wonderful instructor and man. Calling his decisions into question is rude and disrespectful. Are all black men who agree with white men Uncle Tom? What civil rights were violated--did the deputies violate his civil right to sell drugs?

tonyt15street
0
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tonyt15street 05/07/09 - 03:50 pm
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that grand jury was a joke,

that grand jury was a joke, fun house, house of illusions, movie set. the district attorney could have easierly said no case , however; she did as pilate did in the bible and washed his hands with it and put on the people (grand jury) to bear the weight. smart move stay neutral attempt. why did she just have people come in to speak for the officers and not mr. elmore. i was told that there werw other that went down that night that gave statements that were not listed or called upon. i heard the family attorney had witnesses to bring in, but they were not notified of the case going to grand jury. why all the sneaking around and secrets. the balck leaders knew the outcome before it came out.

AugustaVoter
2
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AugustaVoter 05/07/09 - 04:01 pm
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I love how one black officer

I love how one black officer and one hispanic officers were involved in the shooting yet, It was "whites" who decided the fate of those officers. At least that is what Justus would have you believe. Do you think race crossed Deputy Ortiz's mind when he was standing at the front bumper of a 5000 pound SUV?

AugustaVoter
2
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AugustaVoter 05/07/09 - 04:05 pm
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Tony, yeah just like the

Tony, yeah just like the witnesses in the other story posted on here today about the child who witnessed the shooting and the two adults who "witnessed" the shooting as well. Real credible stories. And that is why no one is jumping up and down or rioting in Cherry Tree the past two days. The truth has come out and people are not listening to the hood propaganda. I don't see any Rodney King rioting going on around here?

Riverman1
84889
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Riverman1 05/07/09 - 04:13 pm
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Wasn't there some confusion

Wasn't there some confusion with the police about it being reported ANOTHER vehicle, not Elmore's, was involved in a crime? Anyone remember that being reported on the radio and other places?

ListenAndLearn
0
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ListenAndLearn 05/07/09 - 05:07 pm
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Is this "ratings week" for

Is this "ratings week" for the AC? Are they looking for a Pulitzer? How many times are we going to hear about this non-story? Is justus4 an AC employee, sent here to tell us how stupid we should be? I find it ironic that of all the Training Officers they could have interviewed, they chose a "Clearance Thomas" (say Uncle Tom, justus, "We" know what you're trying to say). Any black person that disputes, disagrees, or flat out fails to conform to a pattern of thug, is an Uncle Tom. You're a joke. The Grand Jury is made up of Registered Voters. Since Nov. there should be a whole lot of people to choose from. Bet they didn't see that coming. And NO, you're not going to find out who was on it because, you can't do simple research. When the Grand Jury says "no bill", that means no indictment, which means, NOTHING'S GOING TO HAPPEN! Which means the deputies were right, they won't be prosecuted. Do you seriously think the parents weren't there when the child was interviewed? I'm seriously trying not to call names, trust me. Might want to try getting your education level past 3rd grade. And your bigot level below 10.

lifelongresidient
0
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lifelongresidient 05/07/09 - 05:09 pm
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hey tech, since you are in

hey tech, since you are in the corner of the deceased why not save all of us taxpayers both black and white the expense of raising the elmore's children and you take care of them. facts are this he has a rap sheet as long as your arm, his probation revoked at least two times with no intentions of completing his community service or paying his fines, a known drug dealer and he refused to obey the instructions of the officers, what do you expect was going to be the end result. but since he was such an "upstanding and fine example of how a man is supposed to be and take care of his family" i understand why you would be upset....if you believe that one i have some ocean front property to sell to you in arizona

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 05/07/09 - 06:19 pm
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He fought the law and the law
Unpublished

He fought the law and the law won.

andywarhol
0
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andywarhol 05/07/09 - 06:31 pm
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Wow, minorities shooting

Wow, minorities shooting minorities. Nothing new, so why the outrage?

1941
4
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1941 05/07/09 - 07:35 pm
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Who gives a damn about

Who gives a damn about Elmore? He was a thug! He should not have ran!He might be alive, and still selling his posion, and making babies he could not afford!This is what should happen to all punks!May he rest in hell!!!

KSL
131202
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KSL 05/07/09 - 07:59 pm
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I was taught by law

I was taught by law enforcement that if you think you need to shoot, then you need to shoot to kill. Don't try to just wound them. They can be dangerous still when only wounded and they can sue. And stupid members of the jury can rule in their favor. The race issue has gotten oh so very tiresome, as have the discussions of Elmore. He certainly was not worth all of the keystrokes about him.

Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 09:09 pm
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Tontt15street, your rumors

Tontt15street, your rumors are the only joke as well as the continued lies you are spreading. Witness statements were investigated and sorted by the GBI and those who clearly were very far fetched from the video were excluded as they should be. Now, what should happen is these liars should be arrested and charged with fabricating to the police in official statements. The video CLEARLY shows that both officers were in jeopardy and that Elmore had more than one chance to do what was right and lawful but chose not to and took a risk. The officers responded accordingly and shot until the threat was stopped. If you don't like or agree with what the officers did, it does not lie with the officers, it lies with the training and instruction they receive which they followed correctly. Keep posting lies and others will continue to correct you with the truth as well as documented facts which can easily be checked vs. your rumors.

corgimom
33150
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corgimom 05/07/09 - 09:10 pm
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I, too, think that Justus is

I, too, think that Justus is either an AC employee or closely related to an AC employee.

tdp
0
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tdp 05/07/09 - 09:52 pm
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Everyone involved with this

Everyone involved with this board knows that justus4 is a racist who fabricates conspiracy theories. Yeah, yeah, Justus4, we know, the white man is trying to keep the black man down. You really need to seek the help of a competent psychiatrist. Really, the quality of your life would be so much better if you JUST SAID YES to some prescription drugs. Seriously!

tonyt15street
0
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tonyt15street 05/07/09 - 10:14 pm
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augustavoter if i'm not

augustavoter if i'm not mistaken the housing authority sent letters to the residents and told them if they came out and said anything they would be kicked out. check on that. one big happy family aren't they, get my back and i get yours and let's do lunch tomorrow say noonish.

tonyt15street
0
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tonyt15street 05/07/09 - 10:27 pm
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do you all feel that white

do you all feel that white kids that shoot up schools, take estasy, pop pills, use herion,acid, ice and have meth labs in their back yards, date minors, smoke weed or sell any of the above listed drugs are scum of the earth. or is this just directed at blacks. we are all equal regardless of ethnicity or gender. love your brother not hate. we are taught to love the person but hate the sin.

AugustaGal
0
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AugustaGal 05/07/09 - 10:39 pm
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There wernt no letters like

There wernt no letters like that you are so stupid and talk about God and all and then lie and talk trash and rumors. You are hating on black cops and a mexican cop who try hard to clean up the problems around here and it is you and others like you who are the real problesm.

tonyt15street
0
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tonyt15street 05/07/09 - 11:00 pm
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You know these letters did

You know these letters did not go out how. Hey just sharing with the people what someone that knows someone down there told me. Don't hate the truth. I don't hate those officers, I just don't see any thing that they told us from day 1 today. If you tell me the car was stolen and had guns and drugs in it that is what I expect from the Law. If you tell me cars were rammed, I expect to see car ramming. If you tell me that someone tried to run over you, I expect to see that. Make up your mind on why you stopped him and who made the call and what did they tell you. Don't Add, Subtract and Multiply on us. Don't hate the truth, why do find it so hard to believe that these letters did not go out. They all work together.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 11:10 pm
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Tony15street, I don't know

Tony15street, I don't know any letter went out like is being discussed but I would dout the housing authority would do anything of the such and yet you put it out there as a fact, not a rumor which it apparently is based on your new post. I don't hate the truth and nor do most rational individuals but your spreading of rumors and lies is far from the truth. The officers stories have NEVER changed although I can see how you may be confused if you read articles and don't follow them very closely. The officers said that an informant told them a car matching that description had guns and drugs and in fact, it did have 1/2 pound of marijuana and several bullets but further investigation ruled the other 3 men most likely got out of the vehicle during the 20 minutes the police were searching for the SUV. The paper used the word rammed, use whatever word you wish but Elmores SUV struck a police car while trying to escape capture. The officers said they felt their lives were in danger, neither you or I can exaclty respond to that but from what I saw on both full videos I can certainly understand that feeling and would have felt the same if placed in the same situation they were.

Asitisinaug
3
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Asitisinaug 05/07/09 - 11:15 pm
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They have NEVER changed why

They have NEVER changed why the attempted to stop the vehicle as they have said over and over and verified by the GBI reports that they attempted to stop the vehicle due to a report of a new type black SUV with guns and drugs in the area. They have never revealed their confidential source except to the GBI and in the testimony during the grand jury - you and others have speculated who the CI was but it never came from them so again they have changed nothing. They have not added, changed, subtracted or anything else, in fact everything they said has been verified by the Sheriff, DA and GBI and matches the full videos other officers statements and an 8 year old witness. If anyone needs to stop hating the truth, it is you and if anyone needs to stop envoking God into this, it is you. As for the letters, again I don't know but based on everything else you have said thus far I would bet not but before you post it as a fact, just ask to see a letter from the housing authority - if there is such, you can bet the AC will be all over it to stir up more to sell papers. As for race, it has nothing to do with it and yes I think those scum you listed are still scum if they are white.

MJ
0
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MJ 05/07/09 - 11:37 pm
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You do not shoot to kill. You

You do not shoot to kill. You shoot to stop the threat. Killing the person posing the threat will stop the threat. Every time.

KSL
131202
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KSL 05/08/09 - 08:03 am
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M&J, we had different

M&J, we had different teachers. Who gets to decide which one was right, in most cases? I would agree that killing the person does not stop the threat in every case. In a great many, it does.

richie24
0
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richie24 05/10/09 - 12:30 am
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A young man drives to Cherry

A young man drives to Cherry Tree to see some friends, He is now leaving. A cop has passes him and turns around as another officer pulls up in front of him and stops. He waits for a second trying to see what is up. He now attempts to back up not knowing the cop wants him. They have yet to wave him down just have lights on which means there is a problem in that neighborhood. He does not think that this officer wants him, so he backs up bumping into another officer that he did not see pull up behind him in the mirror, started he quickly turns while trying to pull up. However,the officer runs and positions himself in front of the vehicle as he turns he sees an officer pointing a gun at him and panics, mashing the gas to avoid the cop and the shots. Shots are fired as he jumps the curve, he passes the officer and the officer continues shooting striking him in the head as he passes. His car rolls to a stop, they break the window and pull him out on the ground, his bloody brain hanging out dead body, can you see him, can you see him ,now picture he is white ,he’s a 23 year old white male. Can you see him, bloody brains hanging out, dead body? Can you see him? He is white.

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