ATLANTA - Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's driver is facing four misdemeanor charges for a crash that occurred outside the city limits while he was using blue lights and sirens.
Now the city of Atlanta has tapped former Gov. Roy Barnes to defend the mayor’s driver after the Cobb County solicitor filed charges in the September crash.
"You're placing other people in danger," Cobb County Solicitor Barry Morgan told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant regarding charges brought against Atlanta police Lt. Steven Nichols, who was Reed's detail driver.
CLICK HERE to view the 162-page document the Reed Administration provided Channel 2 in response to our investigation.
Morgan just filed four misdemeanor charges, including improper use of sirens, against Nichols in connection with the crash on Sept. 9.
"You are only authorized to use the sirens when you are responding to an emergency situation, or you're in hot pursuit of someone, so in my mind, if those two elements aren't present, then you're not authorized to utilize those sirens," Morgan told Diamant Monday.
A Channel 2 Action News investigation recently spent weeks documenting Reed's detail's routine use of lights and sirens in what critics have called clear non-emergencies.
"My job as the police chief is to protect our mayor and his family, and that's what we're going to do," was the argument from Atlanta police Chief George Turner.
Cobb police video after the September crash at Cumberland Parkway and Paces Ferry Road shows the driver of the other car complaining of a neck injury before an ambulance takes him to a hospital.
In the same video, Nichols told Cobb County police officer why he was running lights and sirens.
"He told me they were running late for a meeting," Nichols said on the video.
On Monday, the city called Barnes to represent Nichols.
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"It's just unusual to me to charge a police officer when a decision was made at the scene not to charge," Barnes told Diamant.
Diamant asked Barnes if he ever used lights and sirens in non-emergencies while he was governor.
"Generally, no is the answer,” Barnes told Diamant.
"Why not?" Diamant asked.
“Well, you know, I wasn't in that big a hurry," Barnes said.
While Barnes admits he hasn't gotten too deep into the Nichols case, he said, "It just seems to be a little bit stretching it to me."
"Our position is we have a case, we're going to move forward with a case and however the chips fall, that's how they fall," Morgan said.
Nichols has a court date in January and Reed is on the state's witness list.
In November, the city sent Channel 2 Action News 160-plus pages of documents and case law it argues justifies the mayor's routine use of blue lights and sirens.
We've shown those documents to outside legal experts -- all of whom disagree with the city's position.
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