Double-fatal chase wreck wasn't first involving officer - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Double-fatal chase wreck wasn't first involving officer

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By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

July 22, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The officer involved in that high speed chase has a history of chases that ended in crashes.

The Billy Klewitz crash was preceded by a wreck in 2005 in which a woman was critically injured when hit by a suspect Gary Price was chasing.

That woman, Erica Acree says law officers should be held more accountable chases.

Acree remembers little from October fourth, 2005. She never saw this police chase coming her way on East Second Avenue and doesn't remember her new car being slammed into a utility pole at North Carroll Street.

"I go to where it happened, I go there a lot, but it just doesn't sink in. I want to remember something, but I can't remember anything," said Acree.

The crash left her with permanent short term memory loss and plenty of questions. She wants to know if Corporal Gary Price understands the consequence of his actions.

Since Acree's crash, Price has been involved in two more chases in the last year. In both cases, innocent drivers were hit by the chased suspect. Last June, Billy Klewitz and Bobby Jones were killed on Old Leesburg Road and in November, a pregnant woman who had two children in her vehicle was stuck during this chase involving Officer Price and another drug suspect.

"I think he shouldn't have been chasing him, then to know he's done it again and actually cost two people their lives I think he needs to be off the force," Acree says.

A WALB News 10 investigation shows that Gary Price was disciplined in one of the chases. After the November 2007 crash, Price was suspended for 15 days. His supervisor says Price didn't back off the chase when he was ordered to. There's no evidence that he violated policy in the other two chases.

Acree thinks the suspension doesn't go far enough. She wants city leaders to do more. "They need to stop chases in neighborhoods where there are a lot of people."

The Albany Dougherty Drug Unit chase policy leaves the decision on when to chase up to individual officers. Erica Acree says there need to be better guidelines and more accountability.

Acree hasn't spoken with Officer Price, but she has talked to the man who crashed into her.

"I asked him why he ran, and he said he was just trying to get away, and I asked him why he ran after he hit me, why did he run? He said he was still thinking he just wanted to get away. He said somebody caught him and when they handcuffed him they faced him toward my car and it dawned on him then that he had hit somebody."

She's accepted his apology, but said Price never offered one. Acree remains hesitant on Albany's streets, worried again she could fall victim again to what she considers the poor actions of others.

We have attempted unsuccessfully to talk with Corporal Gary Price, who still works for the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit. He remains an active duty drug agent.

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