Georgia police shot at teens following traffic stop, investigators say

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ATLANTA — Members of a South Georgia community are demanding a thorough investigation after Waycross police opened fire on at least two juveniles during a traffic stop Saturday morning.

The officer-involved shooting took place about 8 a.m. after police attempted to stop a vehicle for a traffic violation, Georgia Bureau of Investigations spokeswoman Nelly Miles said.

Inside the car were five minors, ages 9, 12, 14, 15 and 16, authorities said.

As the car approached the children’s home in Waycross, near Walters and Greenwood streets, the three youngest children jumped out and ran, officials said.

“A second officer responded to assist while the first officer followed the three minors in his vehicle,” the GBI said in a statement.

The second officer opened fire on the two teens inside the car after they reportedly drove toward him as he approached the vehicle, authorities said.

Nobody was struck by the gunfire, and the 15- and 16-year-old got out of the car while it was still in drive, Miles said. According to investigators, a struggle ensued and the 15-year-old was injured by the officer as he arrested him.

In a Facebook video that went viral Saturday morning, a teenager could be seen bleeding from his head while sitting in the back of a Waycross patrol car.

The video had been viewed more than 100,000 times as of Saturday evening.

Jacksonville-based news station WJXT reported the children were returning home from a Walmart when Waycross police began following them.

Three of the children told the station the officer didn’t turn his lights on to pull them over until they had returned to their neighborhood.

The 12-year-old girl who was inside the car told the station the older teens were scared, and instructed the younger children to jump out and run home.

One of the children, 9-year-old Sincere Goodman, said at least seven shots were fired and that one bullet nearly struck him as he ran.

“It went past my face,” Goodman told the news station. “I could have gotten shot in my face, but they shot the swing.

Reporters at the scene also said several bullet holes could be seen in the car the children had been riding in. It wasn’t immediately clear Saturday what charges the teens face.

Atlanta attorney Gerald Griggs said he was contacted by the Waycross NAACP following Saturday morning’s incident and tagged in the now-viral video.

Griggs, who serves as vice president of the NAACP’s Atlanta chapter, said the organization is requesting the immediate release of the officers’ body camera and dash cam footage so they can conduct their own investigation into the police shooting.

“I’m very concerned that shots were fired while children were involved,” he said. “We’re concerned that level of force was used.”

The GBI said once its investigation is complete, the findings will be turned over to the Ware County District Attorney’s Office.

Saturday’s shooting was one of four officer-involved shootings the GBI responded to in less than 24 hours, officials said.

On Friday evening, a Norcross man was shot by police after authorities said he pointed a gun at a Gwinnett County police officer during a domestic dispute at an apartment complex near Norcross.

The suspect, 47-year-old Ramon Guillen, remains at Grady Memorial Hospital in critical condition, according to the GBI.

And a Johns Creek police officer fired at a woman’s car early Saturday after she reportedly struck two people in the parking lot of a bar and then drove toward the officer.

Nobody was shot in the incident outside Bliss Bar and Lounge on Medlock Bridge Road, but 30-year-old Yasmine Mbi was arrested at her home Saturday morning, police said. She is charged with two counts of aggravated assault and one count of hit-and-run, jail records show.

The two women she’s accused of hitting with her car were taken to the hospital. One of them was seriously injured and the other suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

The GBI was also called to investigate a fatal shooting involving a Georgia State Patrol trooper Friday evening.

According to the the GBI, the trooper attempted to stop a Nissan Sentra for a traffic-related offense on Stoney Pond Road in Screven County, which is about 60 miles north of Savannah on the border with South Carolina.

After a brief chase down several county roads, the trooper initiated a PIT maneuver, and the car came to a stop in a ditch. The trooper fired one round, fatally striking 60-year-old Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, authorities said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.

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©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)