Local law enforcement officers were involved in two separate, unrelated vehicle pursuits this week in Bainbridge, according to incident reports.
The first happened Tuesday, July 8 at approximately 7:30 p.m. State Trooper First Class David Fretwell of the GSP’s Colquitt post was traveling east on Shotwell Street when he observed a Chevrolet Impala failing to yield as it turned onto Shotwell Street from Monroe Street in downtown Bainbridge.
Fretwell made a traffic stop and asked the driver, 20-year-old Dominque A. Morgan of Bainbridge, for his driver’s license. While talking with Morgan, Fretwell smelled a strong odor of green marijuana coming from inside the vehicle.
Fretwell asked E-911 to send a Bainbridge Public Safety officer and asked Morgan to exit the vehicle. Around this time, one of the four passengers riding in Morgan’s car–later identified as 24-year-old Paul Toliver Peterson of Bainbridge, moved over into the driver’s seat and took off driving the Impala at high speed.
Fretwell ran back to his GSP patrol car and began following the Impala with his lights and sirens. Peterson drove east on Shotwell Street then made a quick turn onto Russ Street, where he then ran through two stop signs at Water Street and MLK Jr. Drive.
When Fretwell caught up with the vehicle, he saw where Peterson had jumped the car over a 6-inch curb and ran the car into a building. Peterson fled on foot and was initially unable to be found. However, several witnesses and others who arrived at the scene told the state trooper that the fleeing driver was Peterson.
Peterson was arrested by Bainbridge Public Safety Officer Seth Maxwell on Thursday night on a parole violation charge. Peterson also faces GSP charges of obstruction of a law enforcement officer, theft by taking, failure to signal when turning or changing lanes, driving too fast for conditions, reckless driving, fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer and failure to stop at a stop sign.
Thursday night pursuit
At about 9:40 p.m. Thursday, July 10, Bainbridge Public Safety Officer Jared Long was on patrol on E. College Street in Bainbridge when he saw a Ford F-150 pickup truck go through the intersection of S. West Street and College Street with only one headlight working, according to an incident report.
Officer Long turned his patrol car around on Palm Street and then followed the truck eastbound on College Street towards Scott Street. Near Bainbridge Middle School, Officer Long turned on his patrol car’s lights and sirens to stop the pickup, but it sped up and continued east on College Street.
As the pickup truck sped up, it passed a vehicle on the left side on a section of the road with double yellow lines–which indicates no passing is allowed. In addition, there were cars coming from the opposite direction when the pickup truck made the illegal pass. The vehicle continued to swerve and accelerate at high speed, running the stop sign at the intersection of College Street and Gordon Avenue, south of Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge.
Officer Long slowed down at the stop sign to make sure no traffic was coming and the pickup truck gained ground. However, Long could see the pickup truck continue east and turn onto Libby Street, one of several residential streets that is between the hospital and the Bainbridge bypass. The driver of the truck jumped out of the truck at the intersection of Libby Street and Eaast College Street, and the vehicle was left in the drive gear, so it ran into a chain link fence.
The driver fled the scene and was not immediately able to be located. However, BPS officers ran the vehicle’s tag and registration through E-911 and made contact with its owner. A wrecker truck was called to pick up the vehicle and hold it while BPS continues its investigation into who was driving it.
The Georgia State Patrol and the Decatur County Sheriff’s office assisted BPS with a search for the driver.