Two Adairsville police officers stopped the suspicious vehicle at 12:40 a.m. on the northbound entrance ramp to Interstate 75, Adairsville Police Department Public Information Officer Lt. Matt Fowler said.
After checking the license of the driver, Charles Leon Johnson II, 29, of Augusta, police discovered he was wanted on a simple battery charge, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is handling the investigation.
Fowler said the officers walked Johnson to the front of the officer’s patrol vehicle and explained there was a warrant for his arrest out of Richmond County.
Johnson then began walking at a “pretty fast pace” back to the vehicle, which was running with its driver’s side door open, according to Fowler. One officer grabbed Johnson around the waist and the other held Johnson by the arm.
Johnson, who was larger than the officer holding him by his waist, made it into the driver’s seat, Fowler said. The officer attempted to “hip toss” Johnson from the vehicle to prevent him from fleeing and police pursuing.
According to Fowler, Johnson accelerated, causing the driver’s side door to close and pin the officer between the door and the frame.
The second officer could not reach the driver to stop him and could not deploy a taser in a safe manner.
The officer pinned to the car unholstered his weapon and fired one shot, killing Johnson. The car began to slow, releasing the door and pulling the officer beneath the car and running him over.
Bartow County EMS Director Kevin Garren said crews did not transport the officer, who was treated at an area hospital and released.
Two people who were in the vehicle with Johnson were not injured and were released from the scene, Fowler said.
The officer, who has been with the department for three years, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
Adairsville Police Interim Chief Arnold Gillman, who was sworn in 10 days ago, requested the GBI investigate. Once complete, the investigation will be turned over to the Cherokee Judicial Circuit Office of the District Attorney for review.
The Daily Tribune News requested the video footage from the officer’s patrol vehicle, which is not available until the investigation is closed.
Johnson had been arrested at least once in the past. According to information from The Columbia County News-Times, at the age of 21, he was charged with seven counts of criminal damage to property and seven counts of theft by taking in connection with vending machine break-ins.