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  Special
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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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tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 10:07 pm
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georgepickett no kids under

georgepickett no kids under 12 on this post. That's what I'm talking about jaschild. We are a messed up country. Slave Master mentality is still here. Civil Rights violated. No Due Process here. We have real Cowboys running this town. Can someone tell me the role of the DA in a Grand Jury Hearing. Was she there to bring charges against officers are just to give us a show like they did something. Don't forget they take care of their own.

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 10:15 pm
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You guys are funny, let's see

You guys are funny, let's see if you are still laughing when you stand before the real judge on judgement day. Before you speak think about this God can reach down and touch you before you can get it out your mouth. You guys uphold man laws and break God's Laws coming and going. If you items from your job that is stealing. Murder is also one of God's Law. Aldultery, God says we should love our neighbors above all.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 10:18 pm
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Great job. There are more

Great job. There are more drug dealers who need to be taken out. ....Take the trash out.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 10:19 pm
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When someone tries to rob a

When someone tries to rob a bank or a store they deserve to be filled with lead too. Take the trash out.

GnipGnop1
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GnipGnop1 05/05/09 - 10:19 pm
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I hate that a man lost his

I hate that a man lost his life, but his failure to stop at the commands of a police officer caused his own demise. I would like to know where justus4 got his "all white" secret grand jury info. Methinks probably from inside his "I hate the white man" mind.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 05/05/09 - 10:19 pm
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tonyt15street, the role of

tonyt15street, the role of the DA is to present the facts and see if those within the grand jury belive any laws were broken by the officers. And if you belive the DA blindly supports the police officers in this community, you are sadly mistaken as your are in most of your posts thus far. The evidence is clear to anyone with an open mind and common sense. When deputies have their guns drawn and are aiming at you inside of a vehicle, you had better stop, if not the law allows and their training instructs them to shoot until the threat is stoped, period. Once the threat is stoped, discontinue shooting but not until then. Internal Affairs officers within the Sheriff's Office along with the Sheriff, often find against the deputies so their is no cover up in their findings supporting these officers. The GBI has also ruled against deputies before, so again, no cover up, the GBI found these deputies did their job correctly. A grand jury made up of ordinary tax paying registered voting citizens watched the videos, heard the evedence and also said the deputies didn't do anything wrong. Yet with all of this, you support Elmore and go against the deputies...so sad and so wrong.

Irish
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Irish 05/05/09 - 10:25 pm
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alright lorainne , tell me

alright lorainne , tell me who funded all this. I didn't blame him for any of my problems. I don't have these problems but plenty of people in the community do. Any one has a choice in life. He chose the easy way...by the way your diction is terrible. Are you a drop out or something. Choose to be productive and maybe you can stop blaming everyone for your problems. A 23 yr old black male didn't cause all those problems by himself but he certainly contributed to the problem...he wasn't Robin Hood. He wasn't stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. Most of his victims are welfare recipients who barely eke out a living on a government check. Also a choice by the way...Give up the malt liquor and blaming the man fo yo problems and get educated , learn a trade or skill and make yo mama proud.......otherwise wind up in the gutters blaming someone else fo keepin you down....

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 10:26 pm
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The reaction by the project

The reaction by the project mentality people who live in Cheery Tree is a good example of the cultural difference between ghetto people and the general population: http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/memphis-crime

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 10:26 pm
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Now the police can shoot us

Now the police can shoot us if we don't stop our vehicles, before he was trying to run them over and ram their cars and he had guns in the car. Oh maybe he had missles and rockets, maybe he was an arms dealer. Sounds like the shots were fired before the car went forward to me. What is the role of the DA in a Grand Jury Hearing. I thought she was presenting evidence to have them charged. I thought she was for the state, which would have been Mr. Elmore not the Richmond County Sherrif Department. Why didn't they bring the eye witness in the court room. And where are our so called black leaders at. Oh they are scared until this happens to one of their kids.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 10:30 pm
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No wonder the Augusta Housing

No wonder the Augusta Housing Aughority is irrosponsible. They let men pile up with single mothers and sell dope in section 8 houses: www.hongkongaugustaga.org

Hoss4
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Hoss4 05/05/09 - 10:35 pm
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I like how the Elmore Clan

I like how the Elmore Clan doesnt even think for a second that babys mama, babys daddy, mama's baby, or daddy's baby could have been runover by Young Prince Elmore had the police not taken him out first. Yall are all a bunch of smart ones. Go start some more dumbster fires. I'll bring some marshmellows over.

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 10:37 pm
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Asitisnaug if the DA job is

Asitisnaug if the DA job is to present the facts why were the only witness called in for the officers. Why didn't they call in the witness that came forward on behalf of Mr. Elmore. Do you really wat us to believe that two tapes with better views just happen not to exist anymore. Are we crazy, no this is America. Until we get a police department back these problems will exist. They report to the people not the Governor. Internal Affairs shares a office with them , they are best friends. That's a joke! They got to be caught with their hands in the cookie jar to for results. How can the Grand Jury sleep tonight.

KSL
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KSL 05/05/09 - 10:37 pm
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tony, don't forget that he

tony, don't forget that he was under orders not to be on the premises there. You do remember that, don't you? There were two previous videos of the deputies trying to apprehend him. They knew who he was. You want to make an issue of the third encounter with him that evening when he was acting out. Why didn't they just go ahead and shoot him during the first video and not waste all of that gas and manpower time??

AugustaGal
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AugustaGal 05/05/09 - 10:38 pm
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Support the BLACK

Support the BLACK MAN......Deputy Michael Hodge. Support the latino man......Deputy Jose Rivera Ortiz. Support getting these scum out of our neighborhoods that continue to sell drugs to our children and help destroy them. The popo are going to shoot you if you try to run them over when they got you stoped and im glad for it. We don't need his kind around here and we dont need no panthers with there guns coming round here either cause all they do is cause trouble. I know most of those cops in the film cause they come around here a lot and they are always nice and try to help those of us doing right. housing authority and those so called managers here need to do there jobs and get these drug dealing thugs and gangs out of here and allow those of us trying to do good to live in peace and try to rase our children to do better and get out of here. We don't have no good black leaders around here either cause they just lookin out for themselves instead of trying to help make these housing better and better schools and more police around here to help keep us safe and get the bad guys gone.

GnipGnop1
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GnipGnop1 05/05/09 - 10:42 pm
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I watched the video several

I watched the video several times. You can clearly see that he hit the police car and the deputy is not in the same place he moves about 5 or 6 feet backwards. This all comes down to stopping when ordered by a police officer. When you are stopped you are under arrest until such time as that police officer lets you go. It's just plain ignorant to run.

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 10:51 pm
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ksl do you have a clue of

ksl do you have a clue of what you are talking about, are you smoking something. this guy only ran from the cops on foot in the past. does that justify killing him. no due process. civil rights violated. god laws broken. how did they know who was they said they could not see in the car. they did not know who was in the car. your sister and mother could have been in that car as for as they knew. they shot into a dark car without knowing who was in there, they shot the neighborhood up and nearly hit several kids. excessive shooting. straight cowboys. did i miss the wanted dead or alive signs around town on this guy. only in america. this guy was a petty criminal not charles manson. no violent crimes just alot of traffic stops.

EARL84
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EARL84 05/05/09 - 10:53 pm
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NOV. 26, 2002: Arrest on

NOV. 26, 2002: Arrest on misdemeanor obstruction charge for running from officer

DEC. 3, 2002: Charged with giving a false name

JUNE 25, 2003: Charged with obstruction for running from drug agent

OCT. 22, 2003: Charged with possession of marijuana, obstruction and giving a false name after struggling with a deputy while trying to hide a marijuana cigarette in his mouth

DEC. 29, 2003: Charged with theft by receiving, speeding, driving without a license and disorderly conduct after being stopped for speeding; theft charge dismissed in 2004

SEPT. 3, 2004: Charged with speeding and driving without a license

JAN. 27, 2005: Charged with being a minor in possession of alcohol and violating open container law; he was passenger in car stopped for speeding

DEC. 19, 2005: Charged with possession of cocaine with intent to resell and theft by receiving a stolen 9 mm handgun

APRIL 27, 2006: Traffic stop for improper windshield tint and driving without a license

JUNE 30, 2006: Arrested for driving without a valid license, misdemeanor possession of marijuana and possession of Ecstasy

AUG. 4, 2006: Arrested for possession of cocaine; released on bond

SEPT

EARL84
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EARL84 05/05/09 - 10:55 pm
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-poor guy.... never got a

-poor guy.... never got a fair shake. How bout his children he left behind?

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 10:56 pm
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tonyt15street ...The plice

tonyt15street ...The plice did a great job...a good killing. Augusta needs more good killings to send a message to low life criminal riff raff. Bank robbers need to be blown away too.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 10:57 pm
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EARL84 ...His children

EARL84 ...His children ...what a joke...nothing will change ...they are on welfare...duh!

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 05/05/09 - 11:01 pm
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Elmore lived on Crawford Ave

Elmore lived on Crawford Ave and we are glad that he is gone. We want any drug dealing trash to leave Harrisburg. Death to drug dealers!

WW1949
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WW1949 05/05/09 - 11:02 pm
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Good ridance to a no good

Good ridance to a no good drug dealer. If you ever had someone in your family who was addicted to drugs you would say that also.

AugustaGal
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AugustaGal 05/05/09 - 11:04 pm
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tonyman you are stupid and

tonyman you are stupid and ignorant and they didnt shoot up the area and you no it. You are what makes it hard to live around here cause you support a guy who sells drugs to our kids and carrys guns with him and isnt even suppose to be around here and you rag on a black policeman working hard to make it better and saffer for us around here. We dont need your kind and we dont need none like elmore around here neither if we want our kids to live and not get into gangs and drugs and all of the other bad things. I want better for my kids and all of the kids around here and having elmore gone give them a better chance now to do good we just need the managers around here to work with the police and get rid of all of the rest of em selling drugs and carring guns and all. You disgust me sticking up for him just cause he is black how about sitcking up for the many black policemen on the tape tring to help us around here you idiot.

humbleopinion
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humbleopinion 05/05/09 - 11:15 pm
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It's all Obamas fault.

It's all Obamas fault.

mschristy720
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mschristy720 05/05/09 - 11:16 pm
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For one thing, you don't run

For one thing, you don't run from the police. It's is so sad the man was killed but as you can see from the video, he didn't care who he was endangering when he almost ran over the police officer. If a high speed chase had begun, there is no telling how many more lives may have been lost or ruined as a result. I think the officers did the right thing. Think about if it were you in that situation. What would you do?

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 11:17 pm
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augustagal just another white

augustagal just another white person mocking black people. sargentmidtown, augusta gal, ww1949, earl84. we will all stand before the real judge and let's see who will be laughing then. you will be judge for breaking god's laws just as hand down judgement to mr. elmore. god sees all and knows all. my prayers are with you all when that time comes. keep mocking god and his children if you want to. very bad, very bad. read your bible if you have one or purchase one at the dollar store.

AugustaGal
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AugustaGal 05/05/09 - 11:24 pm
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Gods law says you follow the

Gods law says you follow the law and you dont give drugs to kids and carry guns and disrespect your parents like elmore did all of the time. How do you talk about Gods law when you are lieing and sticking up for elmore. Did you know him? If you did then you no just how bad he was around here and that all of the good people dont want him around and glad he is gone but wished he had been stuck in jail for a long time were he belonged anyways. I will be proud to stand up in front of God and say I did all I could to help myslef and my kids when there father ran out on them just like elmore did to his kids. These are good cops and we no most of them and are glad they help us and want them to keep doing there jobs or even more would be great. My bible must be a lot differant than yours casue I belive in doing what is right not trying to kill people.

spdermn78
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spdermn78 05/05/09 - 11:24 pm
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tony15street.. your an idiot.

tony15street.. your an idiot. You are out here trying to feed your poison to people. I can tell you first hand that ALL witnesses were suponeaed to the grand jury testified.... not the project idiots and street lawyers like yourself. All evidence presented was just that.... evidence. And let me tell you that the ENTIRE grand jury agreed. A grand jury of white, black, asian, men and women who all live here in Richmond County. People like you disgust me.. he was a glorified DOPE BOY. Selling weed to kids as young as 15 so he could make it rain at the club. Elmore chosed his fate that date. Sadly it cost him his life. But do not blame the deputies. They did their job and did it well. I pray for the Elmore family and the deputies who have to live with pain of almost dieing in the line of duty and having to take a life.

spdermn78
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spdermn78 05/05/09 - 11:27 pm
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tony15street please shut up.

tony15street please shut up. Dont get bibical on us now. Remember when you point the finger.... 3 more are pointing back at you.. You should have been preaching to Elmore before that dreadful day. He is the one that needed saving. Try saving your community before you blame it for the problems. Go out to Cherry tree and try to save some lost souls.... Oh I forgot your to scared of the thugs.

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/05/09 - 11:41 pm
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mschristy, justify this

mschristy, justify this killing. due process, civil rights violation. we all have them. if they knew who he was they werte supposed to let him go and get him later as he was not a violent criminal. all his arrest were in that same area, he never ventured out near you and committed crimes. traffic and drugs and some of you commenting smoke and use more illegal drugs in one month that he probbaly sold in 5 months. that means you are as you say scum of the earth, a druggie, a dope head, down loading music fee then you are stealing from hard working artist, steal from your job i guest you should be shot down this would save the tax payers money huh, not married and having sex ,shame on you. cheating on your wife. looking at porno, pervert. telling lies, oh,my goodness. oh, i forgot you are all perfect. next time your son or daughter is buying drugs in the hood, you might get the call mr. elmore mom got.

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