Athens pays $250K settlement to officer fired after hitting suspect with patrol car

Taylor Saulters

Taylor Saulters

The Athens-Clarke County Unified Government agreed to a $250,000 settlement with former police Officer Taylor Saulters, who sued the city after being fired amid an investigation into his use of force during an arrest in June 2018.

Saulters was fired within 24 hours of hitting a fleeing felony suspect in Athens with his patrol car during a chase, previously reported. The incident was captured on dashcam video, and cellphone video of the arrest circulated on social media after the June 1 incident.

The Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia (PAC) later deemed Saulters’ use of force as “reasonable,” clearing him of criminal prosecution.

RELATED: Ex-Athens officer used 'reasonable' force when he hit suspect with car, PAC says

Athens-Clarke County police fired Taylor Saulters back in June after dash cam video showed him hit a suspect wanted on felony charges.

The GBI and Georgia State Patrol conducted the investigation into the traffic stop, where Timmy Patmon, who had active warrants for possession of methamphetamine, was hit by Saulters' patrol car while running away.

While chasing Patmon, Saulters hit a curb and flattened one of the vehicle’s tires. According to the PAC report, this “affected the steering of his car,” which contributed to Saulters hitting Patmon, 24.

MORE: Suspect previously hit by Athens officer's car runs from police again, cops say

Timmy Patmon

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The report also said Patmon’s “attempts to crisscross back and forth behind and in front of the patrol car” also led to the collision. In the end, Saulters “did not act with criminal intent and did not use his vehicle as a weapon,” according to the report.

RELATED: Did police chief who fired officer for hitting suspect contradict himself? He says no

Ex-police Chief Scott Freeman previously defended his decision to fire Saulters before the multiple investigations concluded. Freeman was asked to resign by county manager Blaine Williams in September, citing an "erosion of confidence" from within the police department and community.

Former Athens-Clarke County Police Department Chief Scott Freeman

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Marietta attorney Phillip Holloway, who represents Saulters, said at the time that Freeman rushed to judgment when he decided to fire his client. The Oglethorpe County Sheriff's Office hired Saulters two days after he was fired in Athens, prompting protests in the neighboring county.

MORE: Fired Athens police officer's new boss says 'he will be a great asset'

Saulters had a lawsuit pending against the unified government, Williams, Freeman, former police spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez and former Lt. Richard Odum, the city said in a news release Wednesday.

In the release, county attorney Bill Berryman said “the Unified Government continues to deny all liability for (Saulters’) claim.”

The PAC report, Georgia State Patrol incident report and Athens police department’s internal investigation report were cited as “special factors” that were considered in reaching the $250,000 settlement to avoid continued litigation.

In other news:

Police say two people were shot on Wellington Lane off Johnson Ferry Road in East Cobb Wednesday afternoon. Their conditions have not been released, but police said they were taken to hospitals.