SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The family of a 20-year-old allegedly assaulted by a Georgia State Patrol (GSP) trooper is asking for a transparent investigation into the incident.
Attorney Chad Mance says his client Abijah Jones was unlawfully detained on June 11 by a state trooper, causing a hairline fracture to his arm — or possibly an injury more extensive.
“I think it is wrong time, wrong place, bad policing,” Mance said.
The attorney says Jones was driving his younger brother to get a haircut when a trooper sped past him pursuing a Dodge Charger. The 20-year-old reportedly stopped on Pennsylvania Avenue to check on his vehicle and looked at another before returning to his own.
That’s when the trooper yelled for someone to “stop,” according to Mance, and his client was apprehended.
“Abijah didn’t even know he was actually being asked to stop,” the attorney said. “Abijah was walking back to his car after he had pulled over to the side of the road, and he was detained and injured during the course of being detained.”
According to an incident report from GSP, at the time, the trooper involved was pursuing a driver who was going the wrong way and not wearing a seat belt. The trooper attempted to initiate a traffic stop, according to the report, but the driver continued on driving recklessly until he hit another vehicle while on Pennsylvania Avenue.
“As he was taking his little brother to get his haircut, a police car that was chasing another vehicle zoomed past him. When the police car zoomed past him, Abijah’s vehicle shook. So at that point, Abijah thinks maybe my car is hit or something of that nature,” explained Mance.
The driver left the vehicle and began to run away from the trooper who deployed a taser twice, according to GSP. The suspect jumped over a fence and the trooper “lost sight of him.”
The trooper returned to the crash scene and saw a woman who appeared to be unconscious, covered in blood and seriously injured from being crashed into by the suspect, according to the incident report. This is when the trooper’s interaction began with Jones:
Mr. Jones was not attempting to provide aid to the injured driver and appeared to have zero concern for the woman that was seriously injured in the crash. I was unsure if Mr. Jones was in the vehicle when it crashed, if he was involved, or had taken items from the car behind my back. I asked Mr. Jones what he was doing. Once I asked the question, Mr. Jones turned around and began to walk/run back to a vehicle that was parked on New York Street. I ran after Mr. Jones and grabbed him by the shoulders to prevent him from getting to the vehicle. I gave the command several times to get on the ground and Mr. Jones did not comply. Mr. Jones finally complied and got on the ground. Once on the ground, I had to tell Mr. Jones several time to put his hands behind his back before he complied. I detained Mr. Jones and put him in the back of my vehicle until I could figure out if he was involved with the Dodge Charger fleeing. I detained Mr. Jones, due to the fact that the driver that was fleeing was still at large in the area, there was an crash with serious injuries that just occurred, medical personal was not on scene yet, and I was the only Trooper on scene.GSP incident report
According to the report, the trooper let Jones go after speaking with his brother, determining they weren’t involved in the incident.
“Mr. Jones stated he thought it was his brother involved in the crash and was checking to see if it was him,” the trooper reported. “I explained to Mr. Jones that he did not have any business in or around the crime scene if he was not involved. Mr. Jones stated he understood and apologized. Mr. Jones was released with a verbal warning.”
Jones’s family is now hoping the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and GSP internal affairs will look into the situation and ensure that proper training takes place in the future.
“We want to be clear that this is not an indictment on law enforcement in any way, but it is a demand that we make sure folks are held accountable.” described Mance. “While Abijah walked away, so many young men and women don’t.”
WSAV News 3 has reached out to GSP for further comment on the incident.