The Georgia State Patrol (GSP) and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) were called in to review an incident where a police officer struck a fleeing Black man with his squad car. On Friday, Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott Freeman suspended Officer Taylor Saulters after reviewing body camera footage of the arrest of the suspect. Saulters has since been fired.
According to ABC News, the incident took place on June 1 as police attempted to take Timmy Patmon into custody on a felony probation warrant. Saulters and his partner, Hunter Blackmon, started their pursuit of Patmon on-foot but decided to chase the suspect by car. Patmon could be seen initially dodging the squad car as he fled.
Saulters then deliberately ran into Patmon with the front right side of his police cruiser. The suspect rolled up onto the hood of the car and then fell to the street. He and Blackmon jumped out of the car, restrained Patmon, and then threatened to hit him with the Taser if he didn’t submit to the arrest.
Witnesses quickly surrounded the officers and chided them for running Patmon down. Before going to jail, he was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Patmon reportedly suffered minor cuts and bruises.
After reviewing footage of the incident, Chief Freeman placed Saulters on immediate suspension and requested an independent review of the matter by the GSP and the GBI.
“Athens police Chief Scott Freeman initially placed Saulters on administrative leave, initiated an internal affairs investigation, and requested that the Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Bureau of Investigation conduct independent investigations of the incident,” the statement reads.
Results of these investigations concluded that Officer Saulters acted inappropriately and his employment was terminated on Saturday. According to The Washington Post, Saulters told other officers who responded to his call for backup and crowd control that Patmon had run “into the hood of my car and bounced off.” One of the officers told Saulters that as long as he had not made an “overt” movement to hit Patmon, he would be fine.
But the video footage told quite a different story than the one Saulters provided at the scene. On Saturday, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department issued a statement confirming that Saulters had been let go.
“After reviewing the officers’ body camera footage, and all the other facts and circumstances of this case, Chief Scott Freeman terminated the employment of Officer Taylor Saulters,” the Athens-Clarke County Police Department statement reads.
As of June 2, Patmon remained in jail for a probation violation and obstruction of a police officer.