A man struck by a car following a shooting in Fort Valley early Sunday was handcuffed and lying in the road as officers attempted to secure the scene, according to the police chief.
A graphic Facebook video of the incident broadcast live had gotten over 15,000 views by Monday, with many comments faulting the officers for leaving the handcuffed man in the road.
However, Police Chief Lawrence Spurgeon said the video doesn't show the whole story of what happened. He said two officers were already at the intersection on a traffic stop, which is why the flashing blue lights of their vehicles are seen in the video on the other side of the intersection, rather than parked closer to where the man was struck.
He said two groups of people in cars had gotten into an argument about a mile down the road, then at the Five Points intersection they started shooting and one of the vehicles crashed. A man got out of the crashed car wielding a gun, and the two officers on the scene put themselves at risk to stop it, Spurgeon said. They handcuffed the suspect, left him face down on the road, then turned back toward the wrecked car to make sure no one else had a gun, Spurgeon said.
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"It was an active scene with armed people we were dealing with," Spurgeon said.
As they were checking the occupants of the two cars, another car drove up and struck the handcuffed suspect, Jamario Ray, 21, Spurgeon said. Although the video appears to show the car rolling onto his body, Spurgeon described his injuries as minor. Ray was charged with aggravated assault.
The driver of the car, Angela Renee Clarke, 28, of Fort Valley, was charged with DUI and reckless driving. Four others were charged with aggravated assault in connection with the shooting.
Shamon Williamson, who filmed the video, said he was inside a store at the intersection when the shooting started. He then went outside and started filming. He did not believe Clarke was at fault in the wreck.
"The lady wasn't doing nothing but following the green light," he said.
He was surprised to hear that Ray was not seriously injured.
"He should have been dead," he said. "The man's body was twisted under that car."
Antwan Ridgeway, 21, was shot in the upper torso during the incident but his injury was described as "non-critical."
Spurgeon said after the crash, Ray got out of the car with a gun. Officers ordered him to drop it and he complied. After handcuffing Ray, the officers' priority was to make sure no more shots were fired, he said. He said he did not fault their actions and in fact credited them with potentially saving lives. Had they not been on the scene when the shooting started, he said, the incident could have been much worse.
"Based on the information I have, it was a foolish situation that was rapidly unfolding, that happened in a matter of seconds," he said. "I think they did the best they could do with the amount of people that they had."
He said when people see such video of police actions they should understand that the video doesn't always tell the whole story.
"If you do not view it in its proper context and understand how it unfolded, you would think the proper standard of care was not exerted," he said. "It was an unfortunate series of events but when you are involved in criminal activity and you place yourselves in harm's way ... that puts us in a tough situation in trying to protect you and trying to protect the public."