Just after 3 p.m. this past Wednesday, a Florida man hit a pedestrian while fleeing from Lumpkin County authorities and Georgia State Patrol troopers in a stolen truck.
The incident was set into motion when a trooper spotted the truck on Ben Higgins Road and pursued it onto Highway 9 in south Lumpkin County Georgia. The officer pursued the vehicle, but the suspect, Shannon Jones, age 36, of Ocala, Florida, continued to drive.
Jones drove across a field and into a parking lot, hit a pedestrian, and then fled the scene on foot. Officers caught him after a brief foot chase.
The pedestrian, 42-year-old Terry Dean Grizzle of Dahlonega, was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center. The extent of his injuries has not yet been publically released.
Jones currently faces a multitude of charges, which include the following: Theft By Taking, Passing In A No Passing Zone, Serious Injury By Vehicle, Obstructing Or Hindering Law Enforcement Officers, Failure To Notify Owner Upon Striking Fixture, Failure To Stop At Stop Sign, Hit And Run/Leaving The Scene Of An Accident, Speeding In Excess Of Maximum Limits, Reckless Driving, Driving On The Wrong Side Of The Roadway, Fleeing Or Attempting To Elude Police Officer, and Failure To Maintain Lane.
Jones could also be facing murder charges if the pedestrian dies. Murder is a crime of specific intent, and to the layperson it may seem like there was no plan to hit an innocent bystander. However, that is not how intent is legally determined. It is not the intent to violate a particular statute that defines criminal intent. Intent is the natural and necessary consequences of a person's actions. So, the intent to kill in this case would be the intent to flee the police in a stolen vehicle.
As it stands now, the potential consequences here include, but are not limited to, two felony cases, the theft of the automobile and the Serious Injury By Vehicle, and 12 misdemeanors. Assuming the victim does not die, Mr. Jones is facing 42 years in prison if convicted of all of the above-listed offenses.
There is no doubt that Mr. Jones will need a top-rated Lumpkin County Attorney. I certainly hope that the pedestrian recovers quickly. The lesson here is never to make matters worse. There was no way to escape the police because the Georgia State Patrol not only outnumbers any driver, but also has access to aerial surveillance. Never flee from the police. If someone is hurt or killed in a high-speed chase, the fleeing suspect is responsible, not the police.
A side note: I started my career as an Assistant District Attorney in Lumpkin County. This is no place to commit a major crime. The judicial system reflects the conservative values of this quiet mountain community. Insert appropriate assumptions.