DOOLY CO., GA (WALB) - We're seeing dash cam video showing officers surrounding a car on I-75 Wednesday in Cook County. Ricky Thomas, De'andre Walker, and Keshown Wilson are charged with 2 counts of burglary and tampering with evidence--accused of breaking into two convenience stores in Houston County.
Thomas, the driver, also faces traffic charges and 3 counts of aggravated assault against a police officer. All 3 remain in the Houston County jail.
The dramatic dash cam video shows the 3 Florida men leading law enforcers on an 80 mile chase at speeds faster than 130 miles an hour. It all started at room 147 at the Scottish Inn in Dooly County.
"We tried to get the vehicle to stop. The vehicle fled, almost striking several of the officers at that point," said Dooly County Investigator Ricky Lamberth.
Catching the fleeing men was a priority, but officers say everyone's safety came first.
"We as officers during these pursuits, we not only have to consider the suspect's safety; we had to consider our safety, plus the citizens' safety," said Lamberth.
Investigator Lamberth says pursuits are happening more often because criminals think agencies have no-chase policies.
"We've had several to say that, 'y'all not supposed to chase us.' And after they reach a certain speed, a lot of your agencies, that is their cutoff," said Lamberth.
But when suspects are accused of violent felony crimes, that no-chase policy goes out the window.
"Under these circumstances, we normally pursue until they're apprehended," said Lamberth.
The driver of the 2015 Dodge Dart, 20-year old Ricky Thomas weaved in and out of traffic at triple digit speeds. Lamberth says the best thing to do when you see something like this in your rearview mirror is stay calm and in your lane.
"Stay where you are, let us do the maneuvering," said Lamberth.
Thomas finally stopped in Cook County when the entire front right tire and wheel were gone. The chase went through Dooly, Crisp, Turner, Tift and Cook counties.
Georgia state troopers used stop sticks just after Tifton, but Thomas drove another 10-15 miles. Law enforcers say communication is vital to ending a chase safely.
Thomas went through 5 counties in about 30 minutes, requiring help from several agencies. Deputies in Turner and Crisp Counties blocked exit ramps to keep the chase on the interstate.
"That way the pursuing officers have decreased the amount of danger and the side traffic and the oncoming traffic and the cross traffic that they're having to worry about, and can concentrate more on trying to figure out how we're going to stop that vehicle," said Sheriff Billy Hancock.
One car may have been side-swiped in Cordele, but no injuries or accidents were reported during the chase.