COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned exclusively that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed's security detail, while using blue lights and sirens, caused an accident and sent one person to the hospital.
Channel 2’s Lori Geary has obtained police dashcam video of the crash in Cobb County in September outside the Atlanta city limits.
Geary broke the story of the mayor traveling to non-emergency events with lights and sirens which some say is a clear violation of the law.
Although the accident report lists Reed as a passenger, the video shows he left before the police got there.
According to the police report, the call about the accident came in at 9:52 a.m., six minutes later when the officer arrived. Reed, who was a passenger in the black Denali, had already left the scene.
The driver of the other car said he feels queasy and complains of a neck injury. Moments before he's taken by ambulance to Cobb General Hospital, he explains to the investigator what happened.
“Spun around the intersection. He came out of nowhere,” the man said on the dashcam video.
Reed's driver, Atlanta police Lt. Steven Nichols told the investigator why he was running lights and sirens.
“He told me they were running late for a meeting,” the investigator said on the video.
A Channel 2 Action News investigation found it's not uncommon for Reed to use lights and sirens when traveling to non-emergencies.
Vincent Champion, who is the Southeast Regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said it's also illegal.
“Quite honestly, this is an abuse of authority,” Champion told Geary. “He being one of the highest officials in this city should obey all the laws of this state.”
Atlanta police Chief George Turner said he has given the seven officers assigned to the mayor and his family the discretion to use lights and sirens when they deem necessary.
“My job as the police chief is to protect our mayor and his family and that's what we're going to do,” Turner told Geary.
Turner said the officers are deputized in Fulton County and the mayor has received thousands of threats.
“That gives them the authority to be peace officers throughout the entire state for this very purpose,” Turner told Geary.
“If you're deputized in the jurisdiction of Fulton then that's where your jurisdiction lies. Once you go outside that county area, you have no more jurisdiction,” Champion said.
“They've been assigned to protect our mayor, right at seven years and one minor accident doing this work is exemplary,” Turner said.
“The chief is taking the fall for that and he's agreeing that he's allowed his officers to do that. I don't understand that,” Champion said. “The accident is bad enough, but when you're illegally doing something, running lights and sirens, not an emergency situation, then you hit somebody and hurt them -- minor or not -- first accident in seven years, I don't think that makes it right. It’s still wrong.”
Cobb police said the Atlanta officer was at fault, but never cited him.
Geary received a lengthy statement from the Mayor's Office calling our investigation reckless and irresponsible to generate sensational headlines for ratings.
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