College Park police officer hit by SUV after refusing to use lethal force

Credit: WSBTV Videos

Officer seriously injured after teen driver intentionally hit him with SUV, police say

A College Park police officer who was injured Saturday morning said he made a conscious choice not to reach for his gun when a teenager in a stolen SUV drove into him.

In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, Officer Ivory Morris said he ended up on the hood of the SUV before he was thrown from the vehicle and run over, which would have been grounds for using lethal force. His restraint cost him a broken leg and a trip to the emergency room at Grady Memorial Hospital, but the teenager kept his life.

“I was like, ‘I don’t want to hurt this kid,’” Morris told the news station from his hospital bed. “I don’t want to take nobody’s kid away from them.”

Morris’ supervisor told Channel 2 that the officer had every right to use his service weapon against the 17-year-old driver who hit him with the SUV. Under Georgia law, law enforcement officers are allowed to use deadly force in circumstances that pose an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm.

According to Channel 2, Morris began investigating about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when he noticed a Nissan Rogue that had been reported stolen on the city’s Flock license plate-reading cameras. He went to the Hilton Garden Inn at Millenium Center and spotted the car there, the news station reported.

As he went to confront the driver, he said he noticed a 15-year-old boy standing near the Nissan, but the car drove away as he approached. He became involved in a struggle with the 15-year-old in the parking lot when the SUV returned, Channel 2 reported.

As the car pulled up, the teenager in Morris’ grasp jumped onto the hood of the Nissan, pulling Morris with him. He said the boy told the 17-year-old behind the wheel to drive off, which led to both the 15-year-old and Morris being thrown from the hood.

Both became caught underneath the Nissan’s wheels as it drove away, Channel 2 reported. The teen’s injuries were not disclosed.

“When I was on top of that car, I had my other hand free to reach for the gun, but I said, ‘I don’t want to pull it,’” Morris told the news station.

Morris has since been discharged from Grady and is recovering at home, College Park police told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.

In other similar cases in the metro Atlanta area, law enforcement officers have chosen to use deadly force against people they felt posed a threat from their driver’s seats.

On Monday, a man who was shot in the head by a Coweta County sheriff’s deputy filed a lawsuit against the county’s sheriff’s office. He was shot after a short car chase when he pressed the accelerator while boxed in by patrol cars, according to Coweta officials. A grand jury chose not to indict the deputy who fired the shot, but now that deputy is among the defendants named in the lawsuit.

In January 2020, a man driving a stolen Chevrolet Camaro in the Edgewood neighborhood was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol trooper when he drove away as the trooper approached his car. DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston chose not to press charges against the trooper after seeing body camera footage of the incident, but the case was a factor in altering the Atlanta Police Department’s “no chase” policy.

The 17-year-old who hit Morris with the stolen Nissan remains at large. He and two others who were in the car are now wanted on multiple charges, including aggravated assault, Channel 2 reported.

— Please return to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for updates.