Deputies actions justified, grand juror witness says

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 8:19 PM
Last updated 8:24 PM
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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 firmly believes Richmond County Sheriff Deputies Jose Rivera Ortiz and Michael Hodge were justified in firing on Justin Elmore on Dec. 14 at the Cherry Tree Crossing housing complex.

An officer has the legal right and a duty to eliminate or neutralize a threat, and a SUV is a 5,000-pound threat when it is advancing toward you, Mr. Williams said today, 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.

That afternoon several factors indicated danger, 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.

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.

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Riverman1
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Riverman1 05/06/09 - 07:37 pm
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So the side shots were not

So the side shots were not because Elmore was a threat to the officer, the instructor, Mr. Williams, says. The shots were because he was a threat to others. Interesting that he was considered a threat to the public since it was certainly not a high speed chase at that time. The officer who flew past on the grass after Elmore drove past appeared more of a threat to bystanders than Elmore. Does Mr. Williams believe all vehicles that attempt to run from officers should be fired at because they are a danger to the public? By the way, Mr. Williams has taught many of the RC officers and continues to teach them I suppose. Had he instructed any of the officers involved in the incident?

howdie
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howdie 05/06/09 - 07:58 pm
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Mr. Williams also teaches to

Mr. Williams also teaches to Columbia County as well as other agencies through thier program. Elmo had already shown himself as a threat. Get that through your head. You just have a beef and can only vent from behind a keyboard.

BakersfieldCityLimits
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BakersfieldCityLimits 05/06/09 - 10:24 pm
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I hate to say it, but it

I hate to say it, but it seems to me that Mr. Williams is an apoligist for the way that white police treat people of color.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 05/06/09 - 10:30 pm
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Riverman1, you could care

Riverman1, you could care less what anyone has to say even with their years of experience, training, etc. to include the Sheriff's Office, GBI, FBI and even instructors with Colleges teaching POST certified classes. You continue to post false and misleading information regarding Columbia County policies and the use of deadly force to protect yourslef and others. Whatever your problem is with Sheriff Strength (based on many of your posts) you haven't a leg to stand on regarding this situation. Officers are trained and thier job is to STOP the threat, be it at them or others. Yes, all vehicles that attempt to proceed toward towards an officer pointing their weapon at them with the same information that these officers had (armed suspects dealing drugs) certainly should be fired upon. Different circumstances and intel may have required a different type of action but either way, the officer would not be at fault, it would be the driver of the vehicel - place the blame where it lies, end of story. BOTH deputies determined a threat, even more of a reason to reach this conclusion. And, since he just attempted to run over an officer, he was certainly a major threat if he escaped.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 05/06/09 - 10:33 pm
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E2432, take your uneducated

E2432, take your uneducated comments elsewere. One of these officers was black, the other hispanic and they shot to stop the threat of the vehicle. You don't hate to say anything of the such as your comments stir up racial problems for no reason with no bias. All of the other officers on the scene were also black and ALL support the actions of the officers that were forced to fire their weapons. This and most incidents have NOTHING to do with race.

BakersfieldCityLimits
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BakersfieldCityLimits 05/06/09 - 11:02 pm
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Asitisinaug, you base all of

Asitisinaug, you base all of what you say on what experience? Are you the police? If so I weep for the people that you are supposed to be serving. If I read you correct the police could and should shoot at any car carrying drugs? This is 2009 not 1939.

Asitisinaug
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Asitisinaug 05/06/09 - 11:07 pm
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E2432, no where in my

E2432, no where in my comments do I indicate what you have said would be justified. Good try though at changing my words completely and ignoring the other issues to include your race bating comments even against a black and hispanic officer. if you re-read my post, here is what I put....."Yes, all vehicles that attempt to proceed towards an officer pointing their weapon at them with the same information that these officers had (armed suspects dealing drugs) certainly should be fired upon." You take that statement and change it to me saying it is ok to shoot at a car carying drugs....yes, this is 2009 and officers stoping a vehicle suspected of having suspects with guns and drugs who after being boxed in backs up into one partol car and drives forward to an officer pointing a gun at them Can, Will Be and Shold be Shot at until the threat is stoped. That clear it up for you?

tonyt15street
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tonyt15street 05/06/09 - 11:52 pm
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Now I was waiting for them to

Now I was waiting for them to get a token, well you know. They always get one to speak out for them. Oh, I forgot they have been using the area black pastor and political leaders. They keep the masses quiet. They were all apart of this game of gottca. They act like the people are going toe to toe officers like Ortiz holding a gun. People know now that the cops will shoot you if your car moves, ask the guy that direspected his mother a little while ago. They shot into his car and he did not try to hit them. What's the excuse for that one. This guy ran in front of a moving vehicle. What is the procedure? Are officers supposed to block cars with their bodies. Is that apart of the training. Now did his girlfriend call Officer Hodge with the tip about Mr. Elmore as the first report stated (because he said he did not know who was in the car in the report.) Or were they really looking for another young man that does have a violent criminal history unlike Mr. Elmore whom they say is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet regardless of his legal problems. This other guy was still allowed Due Process, and he also had civil rights as we all do. I could clearly see Hodges out of the way

AreUSerious
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AreUSerious 05/06/09 - 11:58 pm
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looking to me he went around

looking to me he went around the police but they only show us part but ya'll got to live with killing somebody for no reason...god gonna have the last say so on the matter.

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