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Crisp County Sheriff's Deputy shot during traffic stop

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February 4, 2006

Crisp County-- A Crisp County Sheriff's Deputy is hospitalized after being shot in the face after he pulled over a car just a few miles outside of Warwick. When Deputy Steven Rankin walked up to the car, the driver opened fire but the suspect didn't stop there. 

It was an early morning traffic stop that was far from routine. "There's no such thing as a routine traffic stop as we hear people say all the time," says Crisp County Sheriff Donnie Haralson.

The unexpected happened. Just before 2 a.m Saturday morning, Crisp County Sheriff's Deputy Steven Rankin pulled over a car heading North on Highway 300. "He had some irregular traffic violations that the deputy was looking at him for," says Haralson. The traffic stop ended a 1/4 mile south of Highway 300 on Raines Station Road.

"Upon approaching the vehicle, the suspect exited the car and shot the deputy," says Haralson. Deputy Rankin was shot in the face but that wasn't the end.

The suspect then used a gun to deliver some blows to the deputy's head, attempted to disarm him and even attempted to shoot him once again. Amazingly the gun jammed.

"I don't know what was in this person's mind trying to do this, what posessed him to do it but it's nothing worth trying to take someone's life like that," says Haralson. The suspect then fled the scene but his car was found at a home two and a half miles away. The Mercury Sable has bullet holes covering the back left side. The shots come from Deputy Rankin's bravery and determination when he regained consciousness.

"The deputy did an excellent job returning fire especially being shot point blank in the face and also the other licks that he took," says Haralson. Rankin was able to radio for assistance. 32-year-old Ben Davis Westbrook III is now in custody for charges including Obstruction of an Officer and Criminal Attempt to Commit Murder.

"We have to make sure justice is followed," says Haralson. But that justice comes after a shocking scare to law enforcement in Crisp County. "It's just a terrible, horrible thing. There's no other way to say it," says Haralson.

They'll continue to pray for the speedy recovery of one of their own. "He's been a good deputy," says Haralson.

Deputy Rankin was transported to Crisp Regional where he was stabilized. He's now in the intensive care unit at a Macon hospital where he'll undergo surgery to remove the bullet and plastic surgery. Ben Westbrook III is being held in the Crisp County Detention Center. After nine Saturday morning, he made contact with a Deputy and an Officer and turned himself in.