Atlanta

Dashcam video shows moments Atlanta police stopped hijacked bus with bump sticks

ATLANTA — Atlanta police have released new body camera footage of Atlanta police officers racing through traffic to stop a deadly bus hijacking and police chase that sped through multiple metro counties last month.

Police said Joseph Grier, 39, got onto a Gwinnett County transit bus at a stop on Ivan Allen Boulevard on June 11 and proceeded to get into an argument with and shoot another passenger, who later died.

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Grier then directed the bus to speed off with dozens of passengers onboard.

Numerous law enforcement agencies chased the bus as it traveled on I-85 north into Gwinnett and then DeKalb counties. During the chase, the bus hit multiple other cars and several police vehicles.

Channel 2′s Mark Winne has obtained body camera video of the tense moments as officers chased the bus and the moments officers were able to disable the vehicle with bump sticks.

Officers with the Elite Unit of the Atlanta Police Department train for these dangerous scenarios, but Auto Crimes Enforcement (ACE) Unit officers Ricky Ferraro and Willie Adams said they’d never seen something like this unfold.

“My supervisor was pretty much calling it like a quarterback,” Ferarro said.

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Officers initially responded to reports of shots fired on a bus, then realized Grier had hostages.

“Be advised, everybody on the bus has their hands up,” one of the officers told dispatch “We’re in the third lane. We’re moving over to the right. Get out of the front of the bus with sticks.”

Ferrao and Adams said they factored in the speed of the bus, the heavy traffic, and the safety of the passengers on the bus and the other drivers as they each maneuvered to get stop sticks, a police tool used to deflate tires in fleeing vehicles, in front of the bus’s tires.

“When I drove by the bus to set up stop sticks, everybody’s hands were up, people were looking at me,” Adams said. “And all I was thinking, like, they’re depending on us to get them off that bus safely.”

Adams said that he knew it was possible the bus could hit him as he got out of his car to deploy the sticks, but he had to do something.

“As soon as the stop sticks made contact with the tires, you could hear the tires hissing, which meant I got a good deployment,” Ferrao said.

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ACE unit commander Lt. Rodney Jones said that extraordinary feats are commonplace on his team, whether it’s an ACE officer executing a pit maneuver on I-285 to assist Cobb Police in catching a driver suspected of ramming a police cruiser earlier this month or working with other agencies to bring a stolen ambulance to a stop after a multi-county chase.

ACE Sgt. Andrew Fincher told Winne he used a kind of stop stick called a Terminator to deflate tires before the ambulance was eventually forced off the road by state Department of Public Safety officers.

“It was, for lack of better words, like that out of a movie,” Fincher said. “This individual had no regard for anyone’s safety or anyone’s property.”

Fincher said he used the same device in March to make a street racing arrest. He said stopping street racing is a big part of what ACE does.

“It creates a horribly unsafe environment, numerous times we have individuals that are hit by these cars sliding or laying drag,” Fincher said.

Jones said the unit is also going after organized crime and they are starting to see the impact of their efforts. “

“In one investigation, we’re talking over 400 vehicles. Very high end,” Jones said. “So far, we’ve made 16 arrests in those particular cases, and that’s just the beginning of that investigation. It’s ongoing.”

Jones said car thieves have become increasingly sophisticated and scientific, but so has the Atlanta police ACE unit in how it approaches investigations and street enforcement.


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