Police say a man with a gun called 911 on himself and then came at the officer with his gun drawn.
It happened at around 11 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.
Officers from Jefferson, Ga., responded to a home on Aberdeen Court, initially to a 911-hang-up call.
As officers drove toward the address, they learned there may have been a home invasion with shots fired at the location. Once the first officer arrived, he discovered a man, identified as Kenneth Shane Hazelrig, holding what appeared to be a gun, walking toward officers. They yelled at the man to drop the gun, which was later discovered to be a BB gun.
When Hazlerig didn’t drop the gun, the officer fired at him at least seven times. When Hazelrig did not go down, the officer ran to the arriving backup vehicle to get some better cover.
Hazelrig came out from the shadows and jumped into the officer’s police car and drove off. Hazelrig drove to the cul-de-sac and then turned around, speeding toward the officers. The officers were forced to run into a yard just before the speeding car collided with the second police car.
Jefferson Police Chief Joseph Wirthman picks up the story from there.
“Revs the engine, goes as fast as he can, drives into the backup officer’s police car,” Wirthman said. “The police vehicle was pushed about 65 feet into a treeline. The stolen (first police) vehicle careened off that vehicle and went into a private residence’s yard and into a truck.”
A total of 10 shots were fired by Jefferson police officer, including the first seven shots, and another three shots that the officer fired into his own vehicle after the suspect hopped inside. None of the rounds struck the suspect.
Wirthman posted the two dash-cam videos on Facebook along with his account of what happened.
In response to critics on social media who complained about none of the shots hitting Hazelrig, Wirthman was circumspect.
“Those are the same folks who would complain if he had fired 10 times and all the shots had hit him,” Wirthman said. “You can’t make everybody happy in this business. My officers went home to their families that night.”
Wirthman said the officer who fired the shots is a military veteran who served in Afghanistan.
“He had just qualified on the gun range. We just had our bi-annual qualification, two weeks ago. So he knows how to use a weapon. But in a situation like that, in a split-second decision he made, somebody coming at you with a gun, no matter how good a marksman you are, you may miss.”
That officer, who has not been identified, yet, is on administrative leave. Wirthman said another law enforcement agency will conduct an independent review of the officer’s response.
Wirthman said Hazelrig was actually the one who made the initial 911 call to police, falsely reporting that a home invasion was in progress and that shots had been fired. Wirthman said Hazelrig lives at that address with his wife and teenaged son. Hazelrig has since hired an attorney and is not talking with police.
“All he has said is that he was sorry, so we don’t know what his frame of mind was at that time,” Wirthman said.
Hazelrig faces two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer; two counts of interference with government property, theft by taking and hijacking a motor vehicle.