ALBANY, GA (WALB) - WALB News 10 has obtained the dashboard camera video from the car of the drug agent who chased a drug suspect until a crash that killed the suspect and an innocent driver.
It was June 27th, 2007, a year ago Friday, that 21-year old Billy Klewitz was killed in a head on crash with drug suspect Bobby Jones. Billy had just left work at Winn Dixie, Jones was running from drug agent Gary Price. Monday, the lawyer for Billy Klewitz' family says the chase never should have happened. Before you view the video, we caution you, you might not want to watch it. It's a terrifying chase with several close calls that ends with a violent crash that killed two people.
Dangerous doesn't begin to describe the chase seen here on dashboard video from Drug Agent Gary Price's car. It shows how he and drug suspect Bobby Jones weaved in and out of traffic during a two minute chase on Jefferson Street. Watch as they both run red lights at busy intersections like South Jefferson and Oglethorpe Blvd.
"He's going right through town there, look at all that traffic," said Patrick Eidson, Klewitz' Attorney.
They ran five red lights as they raced up Jefferson Street through the medical district. Their speed on that streets, most of which is two-lanes, estimated at 85 miles per hour.
"Listen to the speed accelerate," said Eidson. As the two used turn lanes in the chase down the middle of North Jefferson as they passed Phoebe Putney Hospital, Attorney Patrick Eidson says the officer violated the city's no chase policy and ADDU's policy which states officers should avoid contributing to the danger that has already been created by the suspect.
"Look at the traffic, look at what was around churches, schools, it's just everything policy says you're not supposed to do," said Eidson.
As they cross the Jefferson Street bridge, both speed up and the suspect tosses from the window what agents later in the tapes describe as dope.
"The officer was pressuring that driver into passing those cars by staying right on him, keeping the speed up as high as it was and then he passed the cars as well," said Eidson.
The State Patrol Investigators estimate Bobby Jones was traveling 96 miles per hour as the two passed Philema and continue along old Leesburg Road and into Lee County, winding around bends and through traffic, the police vehicle weaved through oncoming traffic as he crossed the center line, just ahead you see Jones brake lights come on and then the head on collision with Billy Klewitz.
"Look at him passing vehicle in the curve, oh, ah," said Eidson.
As the Klewitz family prepares to mark the first anniversary of their 21-year old son's death, there's still the question of why this happened and who should be held responsible? SCRT recommended no criminal charges for Corporal Gary Price.
"For whoever is in charge of him i.e. all of the heads of the drug unit, to allow this to continue is just, it's just negligent," said Eidson.
Negligent they say because Price was just placed on administrative leave but later returned to the streets only to be involved in another pursuit of a drug suspect five months later that included another crash.
For that he was suspended 15 days but has since returned to duty. The Board that runs the drug squad stands by Officer Price's decision to chase Bobby Jones that night, even though agents knew who Jones was and could have arrested him later.
Price remains on the job and the drug unit board wouldn't comment for this story.