Officer opens fire on Ga. man’s car after it backfires during traffic stop, lawyer says

COLUMBUS, Ga. — A Georgia man said he could have died after an officer opened fire on his car after it backfired during a traffic stop.

Channel 2′s Tom Jones was in Columbus Thursday, where Jermaine Hernandez was shot and his car riddled with bullets earlier this month.

Columbus police pulled Hernandez over on Manchester Highway near Miller Road on Feb. 7. The GBI said Hernandez was speeding at 100 mph, which he denies.

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He said that as an officer walked to his car, his foot accidentally hit the gas pedal and his 2008 BMW 335I made a popping sound.

“As I downshift my car makes that popping noise,” Hernandez said. “You hear my car backfire and then shots right away.”

Hernandez said he had his hands out the window and that’s when he was shot in the finger.

“And the bullet went into my ring finger, which I had to get surgically removed,” Hernandez said.

The GBI said that the car backfired, which sounded like gunfire.


Hernandez said that it doesn’t, and that if the officer through a car backfiring was gunshots, he shouldn’t be on the force.

“He heard me popping before I even pulled over,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez’s attorneys want the officer fired. They also want officers to undergo more training to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

“Ultimately, he attempted to kill Mr. Hernandez,” Julius Collins said.

Hernandez said he can’t work and that his medical bills are mounting, all because of a popping noise on his car.

“Everything’s changed. My life quite literally changed,” Hernandez said.

Jones reached out to Columbus police, who said the investigation is active and they can’t comment. The two officers involved are on administrative leave with pay. It’s unclear how the second officer was involved.

The GBI was called in to look into the incident. Agents said the investigation is still underway.