Grand jury won't charge deputies in suspect's fatal shooting

Police video shows the shooting of Justin Elmore in December 2008.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009 4:06 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 12:20 AM
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MORE VIDEO: Residents of Cherry Tree Crossing react to today's grand jury decision

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Elmore

A Richmond County grand jury today found no reason to bring charges against two sheriff's deputies who fatally shot a suspect last December when he tried to run over one of them with his SUV at an Augusta housing complex.

Grand jurors, who heard testimony and reviewed police videotapes of the incident behind closed doors, decided the two deputies, Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge, should not face charges, and brought a no-bill of indictment in the Dec. 14 shooting of Justin Elmore.

Sheriff Ronnie Strength said he was pleased with the decision and urged others to view the police dashboard-camera videotapes of the shooting before reacting to the results.

The sheriff said the film shows his deputies' lives were in danger the moment Mr. Elmore put the vehicle in drive.

“That was the threat,” he said.

He also confirmed his department had reaction teams ready to restore the peace should violence break out in the Cherry Tree neighborhood, as happened often in December.

“We hope people do sit back -- study the tapes -- before anything is done,” Sheriff Strength said.

He met today with local community leaders including longtime Paine College professor Mallory Millender, state Rep. Henry Howard and Barbara Gordon, publisher and editor of the Metro Courier newspaper.

The sheriff said deputies have been preparing for the past two months for any violent demonstrations in reaction to a grand jury decision.

This afternoon, numerous police cars, including a SWAT team van and Columbia County sheriff's vehicles, could be seen parked just not far from the Cherry Tree neighborhood.

In December the shooting of Mr. Elmore, 23, had provoked several days of unrest as hundreds in and around the public housing complex off 15th Street shouted, marched and even threw bottles in protest.

The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke at Mr. Elmore's funeral, urging calm. Afterward, however, many took to the streets, including members of the New Black Panther Party, who displayed guns and marched, while police looked on.

Because the case involved a police agency, it was turned over to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which shared the results of its inquiry with District Attorney Ashley Wright. She showed that evidence today to grand jurors.

Although the grand jury presentations are not public, earlier police accounts said the deputies had been responding to a tip about a man with drugs and weapons in an SUV when they boxed in Mr. Elmore, using their patrol cars.

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.

A gunshot then fatally wounded Mr. Elmore. 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 systems.

RELATED STORY

- Elmore had history of arrests

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Erayzer
4
Points
Erayzer 05/05/09 - 06:11 pm
0
0
He was going left. Kill shot

He was going left. Kill shot on right side. He could've easily run over the deputy. Not taking up.. Just so sad. 2 wrongs don't make a right. Especially when someone ends up 6 ft under.

buckfiddy
0
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buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:11 pm
0
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he made an effort to go

he made an effort to go around the officer and the officer stood in the same spot firing his weapon this officer should be thrown in jail.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 05/05/09 - 06:12 pm
0
0
First off the video wasnt

First off the video wasnt posted when I first posted, But until he pulled off we didn't even see officer hodge and between the 2 shooting it could have came from anywhere, but if you watch the video niether side window was broken, if the bullet did go through but tint held it together then we dont know which officers bullet was the fatal one, it could have been hodges who was off to the side. That [filtered word] could have ran over a child or hit n innocent car and killed someone. I have no sympathy for those who run from the police, even if its for a minor infaction, they can kill someone, ask the lady who lost her sister to that [filtered word] jamie who ran from the police, or the man who lost his mother wife and unborn child to that little witch who was running from stealing at marshalls becuase she was to lazy to get a job. I have more symapthy for these innocent people than the [filtered word] who run away from thier crimes!! IMO the officers prevented a real tragedy. Dont b a criminal dont run fromt he police and you wont be shot and you wont kill innocent people!!

buckfiddy
0
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buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:14 pm
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the SUV went to the left to

the SUV went to the left to go around the officer and the officer kept firing even the SUV had left this is a prime example of police corruption.And we haven't heard the last of this case.

Erayzer
4
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Erayzer 05/05/09 - 06:14 pm
0
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I noticed that there hasn't

I noticed that there hasn't been a word said as to if drugs and a weapon were found. Was a gun in his hand inside the vehicle? That is the million dollar ? Looks like a gun down.

TheGeorgian
403
Points
TheGeorgian 05/05/09 - 06:15 pm
0
0
Aw, now you and Rev. Sharpton

Aw, now you and Rev. Sharpton know that this poor 'victim,' Elmore, sang in the church choir on Sunday, ran errands for his neighbors, visited the sick, babysat for free, was a fine upstanding member of the community. Rumor has it he even helped little old ladies in front of buses...er, I mean, catch their buses.

buckfiddy
0
Points
buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:17 pm
0
0
that officer could have

that officer could have killed some one in the appartment from a stray bullet.They put others lives in more danger than the guy running.

buckfiddy
0
Points
buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:19 pm
0
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This whole case is a sham and

This whole case is a sham and a setup by the crooks at the Richmond county sheriff's office.

Loisin70
0
Points
Loisin70 05/05/09 - 06:24 pm
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I think justice was served

I think justice was served and the officers had to do what action needed to be taken at the time . they are trained to deal with crime like this all the time. from what i read i see the officer where in danger so approciate action was taken , even though a life was taken.I say go!

freedombelle
29
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freedombelle 05/05/09 - 06:28 pm
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You are a bunch of

You are a bunch of "NUTS"..you don't know more about what happened than the police and it sure sounds like Riverman has a gripe with Ashley Wright..The connection she has is with a Georgia State trooper who had nothing to do with this case..Sounds like a bunch of police haters to me..Wonder why ? Maybe some of you have "been there done that." Stop trying to show your "importance" and be a good citizen. These men work hard to save life NOT destroy it..

buckfiddy
0
Points
buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:33 pm
0
0
These cops endangered the

These cops endangered the lives of the residents at cherry tree crossing by opening fire and shooting like that with residents in the background and i saw one walking.The cops were reckless and should be charged with murder.

buckfiddy
0
Points
buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:36 pm
0
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Even after the suv had gone

Even after the suv had gone around him he was still firing.

buckfiddy
0
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buckfiddy 05/05/09 - 06:47 pm
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I'm sure the sheriffs office

I'm sure the sheriffs office had a good olboy talk with these jurors.It's videos like this that puts a distrust in the police among the public.Of course don't forget people like consevatives and returning vets are on the homeland security watch list now.And these thugs could be shooting in your neighborhood next.

Riverman1
81573
Points
Riverman1 05/05/09 - 06:47 pm
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FreemdomBelle, yeah, we are

FreemdomBelle, yeah, we are all nuts to question things. By the way, Ashley Wright has a relationship with a Georgia State Trooper now? Not a Richmond Cty officer? Well, things change....heh.

rakkassan
0
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rakkassan 05/05/09 - 06:48 pm
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Riverman1: how many rounds

Riverman1: how many rounds have you fired at a bad guy. And in perfect Columbia County no less.

Irish
0
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Irish 05/05/09 - 06:52 pm
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I find it difficult that all

I find it difficult that all of you law abiding citizens are siding with a two bit drug dealer. He was dealing drugs to children, taking money out of our pockets and food off our tables while enslaving members of our community to a habit forming drug. All of this leads to further degradation of human kind by fostering prostitution, theft, pandering, and out right acts of violence which kept our neighborhood a war zone at all times. Meanwhile he took his gains and pimped his ride and lived high on the proverbial hog while you homeys lived in squalor....and you still want to make a hero out of him. He would have cut your throat for a dollar.....If you just need a reason to loot and riot have at it...but don't do it in memory of this two bit hoodlum.....

Tots
25846
Points
Tots 05/05/09 - 06:53 pm
0
0
Dont run you might not die.He

Dont run you might not die.He was in the wrong.Should have just went to jail.Thats what those people should be teaching their kids.But no all you hear is the cops were wrong.Like them starting fires down there how stupid are you?

rakkassan
0
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rakkassan 05/05/09 - 06:54 pm
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irish. well said.

irish. well said.

Riverman1
81573
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Riverman1 05/05/09 - 06:54 pm
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I never said I fired at

I never said I fired at anyone in Columbia Cty...much more hostile circumstances. But the point is that Columbia Cty has a published policy for officers that they do not fire in moving vehicles. After the Elmore killing, nothing changed in Richmond Cty. Later, there was another shooting by an officer into a car where he luckily missed everyone even though he shot 5 times. Of course, at least one poster who likes to use his name, said the driver needed to be shot for dissing his mother.

lorrainehsmith
0
Points
lorrainehsmith 05/05/09 - 06:58 pm
0
0
ITDoc, Take a minute and

ITDoc,

Take a minute and think about what you are saying. There is a problem when a man stands shaking in his boots, because he has be pulled over by what should be a SERVANT of the people. How long have you been living in Augusta- it's time for you to go on a trip, expand your mind, vision, thoughts. It's 2009 and you have the mentality of a 'ole negro slave'

lorrainehsmith
0
Points
lorrainehsmith 05/05/09 - 07:00 pm
0
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Irish, how can you blame

Irish, how can you blame someone else for your problems. Do you really belive that one young black male "AGE 23" cause all of those problems? Really think about who has been funding drugs, purchasing weapons for street wars for years....

rakkassan
0
Points
rakkassan 05/05/09 - 07:02 pm
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lorrainehsmith, What ITDoc is

lorrainehsmith, What ITDoc is saying is true. Whats your problem warrants?

TheLaw7
0
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TheLaw7 05/05/09 - 07:11 pm
0
0
Well done job by the officers

Well done job by the officers Justin Elmore clearly tried to run them over and was told to stop plenty of times but he made an idiotic choice. 1 less person we have to worry about selling drugs or robbing us with a gun. Good Job RSCO Good Job

Tots
25846
Points
Tots 05/05/09 - 07:13 pm
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0
I just watched the video.This

I just watched the video.This was a sad way to die.Teach your kids to have more respect for the law and themselves.Tell them to stop when the law says stop and never try to run them over.It looks like everthing happened real fast.The cops pulled up and he just tryed to run them over to get away.If you arent guilty then why run?Black or white show your kids this tape.Tell them is it worth your life to stay in trouble with the law.

ITDoc
1
Points
ITDoc 05/05/09 - 07:16 pm
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0
Ms Smith: "shaking in my

Ms Smith: "shaking in my boots" is your interpretation, not a quote from me. I shake not when police pull me over for I've committed no crimes. I was taught to respect law enforcement by my Father. As for your questions: I was born and raised in Gary Indiana's poorest ghetto. I am Caucasian. I have lived here since 1997. I have been the victim of racial discrimination many times while growing up white in a 98% black neighborhood. Racists black or white died in my neighborhood. I have the mentality of an innocent man. As an employer, I've never TOLD anyone to do something, always ask. It's called respect and doing unto others as I'd have done unto me. Many poor decisions in this case upon all parties, but I must trust the judgement of the courts. Those who would defend authority against rebellion must not themselves rebel.

TheLaw7
0
Points
TheLaw7 05/05/09 - 07:26 pm
0
0
IT the only poor decision

IT the only poor decision made was that elmore tried to run the officer quit trying to be all sympathetic towards that stupid thug . He lived like a thug and died like a thug . Plain and simple not a black and white thing at all 2 black officers and 1 hispanic officer no whites period so black people can't say it was angry white people who casued him to get shot or sell drugs or rob people or steal . Justin Elmore caused himself to be where he is and his stupid brother is an alcholic who needs to be locked up for being on camera drinking beer and saying stupid crap like that screw his family for raising an welfare living type of thug . Everyone in CTC is a welfare depending druggist who needs to get a job besides working at Mcdonalds and getting fat,

bigman30907
0
Points
bigman30907 05/05/09 - 07:28 pm
0
0
To the people of Cherry Tree:

To the people of Cherry Tree: Are you so engulfed in your crime ridden environment that you would hold up a two-bit, street thug as a martyr? No wonder Charles Walker won his election. Maybe O.J. Simpson should run for mayor next, eh? He would be a shoo-in if he ran in Richmond County. And if Manson gets released after his next parole hearing, we could get him to run for school superintendent.

papadan
1
Points
papadan 05/05/09 - 07:41 pm
0
0
Hope you people who are

Hope you people who are talking against the Officers Of The RCSO,start some crap tonight, and mabey they can get rid of some more of you fine upstanding citizens.

TheLaw7
0
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TheLaw7 05/05/09 - 07:43 pm
0
0
I hope those idiots do riots

I hope those idiots do riots so they can get locked up.

storiesihaveread
358
Points
storiesihaveread 05/05/09 - 07:48 pm
0
0
I did not know it was a black

I did not know it was a black police officer. There you go black on black shooting. When will it stop??

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