The Coweta County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia released a video Tuesday showing a dangerous high-speed chase involving a U-Haul truck last October. Investigators said a deputy was forced to open fire on that driver after trying to ram several vehicles during the pursuit.
FOX 5 Atlanta covered the incident that started on Oct. 11, 2020, around 9:16 p.m. Deputies were dispatched to the BP gas station along US-27 after reports of two people breaking into tractor-trailers. Deputies said those two were found at the nearby Pilot Travel Center where they were caught in the act of trying to break into a tractor-trailer.
The two suspects spotted deputies, jumped into a large, rented U-Haul truck, and took off. The box truck weaved through the parking lot as deputies followed with their lights and sirens on. In the video from the lead deputy’s bodycam, he can be heard asking for stop sticks.
The truck had just turned south on US-27 when it struck a car head-on. The occupants of that vehicle were OK.
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The driver of the U-Haul did not stop and continued down US-27 to US-29 driving in the wrong lane of traffic. Investigators said speeds reached 80 mph in 45 and 55 mph speed zones.
The driver eventually got onto US-29, headed towards Grantville before turning onto Interstate 85 northbound.
The driver kept going north on I-85, avoiding stop sticks along the way at least three times by swerving across the three lanes of traffic, narrowly missing tractor-trailers and tanker trucks.
Deputies also unsuccessfully tried to box in the truck but were met with the broadside of the vehicle each time. And using the PIT maneuver was out of the question, a deputy said.
As the chase progressed, deputies were looking for ways to end the chase safely.
But it was when the driver of the U-Haul began to aim at the cars parked along the side of the interstate that the stakes became higher.
Officer over the radio: "We got motorists pulling over, he's trying to hit them as well."
Deputy: "Be advised, we're at 'deadly force' in this situation, guys. If we get the chance, I'm not going to let him hurt somebody else."
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A statement from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office outlines what happened next:
"Given the circumstances and the risk to everyone on the roadway, one deputy with supervisory authority determined it was necessary to utilize deadly force. That deputy pulled alongside the U-Haul from the driver’s side and fired his service weapon three times into the cab of the U-Haul. The bullets struck the vehicle, but the driver continued to flee. The deputy then repeated this maneuver, firing three additional shots into the cab of the U-Haul. The U-Haul then pulled to the right, scraped a concrete wall, and finally came to a stop on the bridge over Bullsboro Road. The chase lasted approximately sixteen minutes and over nineteen miles."
"I had no choice. I had no choice," the deputy who fired the shots told fellow law enforcement officers at the scene.
Both men were detained. The driver, later identified by investigators as Jackie Harris, suffered three gunshot wounds with one bullet striking his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed.
The passenger, identified by investigators as Mario Keen, suffered minor injuries.
Harris admitted to paramedics that he took an "8 ball" just before the chase and was intoxicated. Deputies said they found a small amount of cocaine in his pockets.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was asked to review the deadly use of force. The agency turned its findings over to the district attorney who believed the shooting was justifiable.