Holly Springs officer killed during traffic stop was ‘model officer,’ chief says

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — A memorial continues to grow outside the Holly Springs Police Department as fellow officers and the Holly Springs community mourn the loss of one of their own.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation confirmed that Officer Joe Burson was killed in the line of duty late Wednesday night when he was dragged by the suspect’s car during a traffic stop with a man he pulled over for speeding. It happened along Hickory Road around 11 p.m.

Elliot Wilhoit lives near where the incident unfolded. He told Channel 2′s Chris Jose that he has a relative who works for the Holly Springs Police Department.

“Him and I almost broke down in tears because this man is not going home to his family,” Wilhoit said.

Thursday afternoon, Holly Springs Police Chief Tommy Keheley confirmed the fallen officer was Burson.

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“He was a model officer. If you had the ability to clone police officers, you would’ve wanted your officer to be Joe Burson,” Keheley said.

The GBI said Burson pulled over Ansy Dolce, 29, for speeding along Hickory Road and Harmony Drive. One agent told Jose that Burson was dragged a distance longer than a football field.

“During that traffic stop, that officer was able to fire shots at the suspect,” said GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles.

Dolce was hit and killed by one of those shots.

Miles said a patrol supervisor was also on the scene.

The GBI said investigators are going through body camera and dash camera video of the incident. How Burson was dragged and couldn’t let go is currently under review.

[READ: Metro police departments show outpouring of support following Holly Springs officer’s death]

“The bottom line is, this all could’ve been avoided,” Keheley said.

At police headquarters, Jose was there as the fire department and surrounding police agencies halted traffic to pay their respects.

Burson was 24 years old, a new officer and a husband. The Ball Ground, Georgia native became an officer for Holly Springs in March 2020 not long after graduating from the academy.

“This is the worst day of any police chief’s job,” Keheley said.

Keheley told Jose that he and his command staff met with Burson’s wife and told her what happened.

If you’d like to donate to Burson’s family, you can do so here.