GBI report released, offers Elmore shooting details

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The witness whose account of the Justin Elmore shooting mirrored what the police videos revealed this week was an 8-year-old girl.

The child’s statement to Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents was in the GBI investigative report shared with the Richmond County grand jury Tuesday. The jury chose not to indict two sheriff deputies for any criminal charge.

The report was released today through an Open Records request. It reveals both Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge fired their weapons at Mr. Elmore the afternoon of Dec. 14. Between them, the two sheriff ‘s deputies fired eight times. 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 a 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 agents that he thought the driver was going to run over him. 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 reason the deputies wanted to stop the SUV was 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 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. There was just over 15 grams of marijuana and 30 rounds of ammunition, according to GBI report.

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

The investigation didn’t reveal who might have been with Mr. Elmore before the shooting. There was 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 pubic 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 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 completed 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. She also told GBI agents the officers shot two people in the SUV.

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bettyj 05/06/09 - 07:08 pm
Those 2 women knew that drugs

Those 2 women knew that drugs was being sold in that neighborhood, so they were stupid to lie." WHY " would a 8 year old child lie? Yea, the suv went to the left, after it jumped the curb. The video shows it all. On my computor, I watched the video over 4 times and saw the officer jump back, so he would not be hit. In about 95% of neighorhoods, you can tell where drugs are being sold, by all the traffic; cars pulling up side by side and arms out the windows. People waiting in cars and another one pull up; first car, someone gets out and walks to the second car. See it all the time.

howdie 05/06/09 - 09:04 pm
Hmmm. Ammo + convicted felon

Hmmm. Ammo + convicted felon = mandatory five years. Drugs + convicted felon for what was it again...oh yea drugs = more jail time. Seems like he would do anything to avoid that.

Asitisinaug 05/06/09 - 11:46 pm
Riverman1 and Tonyt15street,

Riverman1 and Tonyt15street, does this help clear up all of your unanswered questions? 8 year old girl tells the truth, statement matches and supports that of the deputies. Other so called witnesses lie to protect the drug dealing scum as their statements are completed contrary to video taped evidence. This incident could have been much worse had the other three drug dealers still be with Mr. Elmore with additional drugs and weapons but liberals and uneducated individuals will never understand that type of situation that these officers are placed in constantly within that and other neighborhoods. These deputies did excatly what they are paid to do, STOP threats and get drug dealing scum off of the streets and they did their job very well. They obviously work with those who do care about the neighborhood, have informants and quickly attempt to follow up on information. Cops can't win either way because if they could care less and just rode out their shifts for paychecks then they would be called lazy cops who do nothing to help take care of the neighborhood. Instead, they care deeply and help to clean up the projects and do their jobs well. Thanks for all you do & a good job

AreUSerious 05/07/09 - 01:05 am
it's in the lord hands..they

it's in the lord hands..they may have got away with murder with the gbi but they still have to answer to the person with greater power.god aint gonna let them get away with it...i knew they was gonna side with the officers anyway.

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