An investigation into an officer-involved shooting last year in Georgia has cleared a police officer of any wrongdoing, and the body camera video released this week from the incident reveals why.
On Oct. 11, 2020, deputies with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office in western Georgia received calls about two men allegedly breaking into tractor-trailers in a gas station parking lot, WAGA-TV reported. When deputies arrived, they caught two men in the act of attempting to break into one and a chase ensued.
Two men, identified by officers as Jackie Harris and Mario Keen, took off in a rented U-Haul truck. Officers reported Harris, who was driving, was behaving erratically and going at a high rate of speed.
After numerous attempts to stop the escalating chase with stop sticks, and with a PIT maneuver ruled out due to the size of the truck, police had to try another method. At one point, officers reported the driver was going the wrong way on a highway.
The sheriff’s department said Harris then began targeting parked motorists with the box truck. That was when one deputy made a decision. He was going to use deadly force to protect innocent life.
“We got motorists pulling over, he’s trying to hit them as well,” an officer said through his radio.
The deputy in the lead of the chase then noted: “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.”
Body camera video from the incident was released by the sheriff’s office on Tuesday. In that video, the lead deputy, who WAGA reported had the authority to use deadly force, announced to other deputies he would neutralize the U-Haul driver.
The deputy did just that through the textbook move of firing his pistol into the driver’s side door of the vehicle. The officer fired three rounds with his right hand while keeping his left hand on his steering wheel.
WARNING: The following video contains images which some viewers will find disturbing. Viewer discretion is advised.
The chase was over from there. Harris survived but was left paralyzed when one of the bullets struck his spine.
One year later, and the officer who fired the shots has been cleared. Without naming the deputy, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that an investigation from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the district attorney’s office concluded his actions were justified.
“Given that the nature of Mr. Harris’s driving made him a suspected felon, officers were permitted to use deadly force to apprehend him because it was reasonable to believe that Mr. Harris posed an immediate threat of physical violence to every other person on the road,” the department said in a statement.
“Additionally, a vehicle, like Mr. Harris’ vehicle, is an object which when used offensively is likely to result in serious bodily injury, which means the Deputy was also permitted to use deadly force to protect others from Mr. Harris’s commission of the offense of Aggravated Assault.”
“Following a thorough review of the facts of this case and the relevant law, the District Attorney finds that the deputy who used deadly force against Mr. Harris was justified in doing so and did not violate the laws of the State of Georgia,” the department added.
“Therefore, the District Attorney’s Office declines to prosecute the deputy for shooting Mr. Harris. The District Attorney’s Office has spoken with Mr. Harris’ family to explain our analysis of this matter and we sympathize with Mr. Harris’ resulting medical condition. The District Attorney’s Office considers the review of this deputy’s use of force closed.”
The investigation’s results are a win for justice and a loss for those who attempt to politicize every act of policing nationwide. Cops across the country at the time were portrayed as villains by the establishment media and Democrats. Meanwhile, some criminals were being treated as civil rights icons.
As former President Ronald Reagan once said: “We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
In Georgia, by choosing to use deadly, but not ultimately lethal, force, a deputy from the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office potentially saved lives. He had the courage to draw his firearm on a man during a time when doing so — no matter how necessary — could result in life-altering consequences for any cop.
Being a cop can be a thankless job. We’re blessed as a country to have so many brave men and women in uniform willing to cancel out the noise and go to work each day.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.