The family of a young woman who was hit and killed by a car after she ran over a police officer in the Peachtree Towers neighbourhood of Atlanta say the officer’s actions were ‘absolutely heroic’.
The officer was responding to reports of a man trying to steal a car when the fatal crash happened.
It happened just after 2pm on Friday when the officer was driving southbound on I-20.
‘The officer was just going to keep driving, trying to make sure he didn’t get hit by anyone else, but he had to stop, because he was getting hit by a vehicle that had just hit him,’ said the father of the young woman, who has not been identified.
The officer’s partner has been placed on paid leave pending the outcome of an investigation.
Police say the car the woman was driving was travelling at more than 50mph in a 35mph zone, at speeds of up to 100mph.
But that speed limit was exceeded in both directions and a white Toyota Camry sped up, striking the officer, who suffered minor injuries.
The driver of the Toyota, later identified as 19-year-old Jontay Brown, was charged with hit-and-run, fleeing an officer and obstructing a roadway.
‘That’s just unbelievable.
That’s just insane,’ said neighbor and witness Kevin Brown.
‘They didn’t stop the car.
They just kept going.’
The officer is recovering in hospital, while the driver of Brown’s vehicle, identified as 18-year old Jontez Johnson, has been charged with driving under the influence.
The crash was captured on a dashcam and video from the officer car, which was later recovered from the driver’s vehicle.
‘You could see him crying in the car,’ said neighbour Mike Hickey.
‘He was just laying there in the middle of the road.
‘I’ve seen a lot of bad things happen in his life and he never even had a ticket for driving without a license plate.’
It’s just tragic that he was killed.
He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.
He was just a good guy.
I just wish it didn’t happen like that.’
Johnson is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.
The Peachtrees have been described as a ‘haven’ for the Southside community.
Neighbour Steve Smith said he knew Johnson, and the officer himself, when he was a boy.
‘We used to play outside in the park and we’d go over to their place, they’d be like ‘yeah, you know that’s the one that’s going to be here next day?”
I’m sure I’m not the only person who would say that to a cop when I saw him and his family,’ Smith added.
The Atlanta Police Department is investigating the crash.
In a statement on Friday, the department said it is ‘deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life during a traffic stop in the city of Atlanta’.
‘We ask that the family and the community pray for the officer and their family during this time,’ the statement read.