An internal investigation found that a Gwinnett County police officer was playing a YouTube video in his patrol car when he rear-ended a woman’s SUV at nearly 70 mph, sending her into a coma for four weeks.
The internal police investigation report was recently obtained by Channel 2 Action News, and it shows that a “Grand Theft Auto” gameplay video from YouTube was playing on Officer Todd Ramsey’s onboard computer terminal before and during the crash.
However, Ramsey was only cited for following too closely before later being demoted.
Sarah Wood, the SUV’s driver, told Channel 2 she was born deaf, but the coma caused her to suffer a traumatic brain injury, worsening the pain of wearing her hearing aids. As a result, she said she is no longer able to work.
“I was sitting in traffic and pretty much the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital,” she told the news station through an interpreter. “I don’t remember anything after that.”
Wood had been driving 6 mph on I-85 about 5:30 p.m. April 1 when her Kia Sorento was hit by Ramsey, who was driving 68 mph. Two other vehicles were involved in the crash, but no one in those vehicles was seriously injured, AJC.com previously reported.
“I don’t believe there was any attempt to stop or swerve because he didn’t see her. He wasn’t looking,” Susan Witt, Wood’s attorney, told Channel 2. “He was looking somewhere else.”
Investigators found that Ramsey had multiple browser screens open on his computer terminal, which were using an abnormally large amount of data, Channel 2 reported. Before getting on the interstate, the report found he was sitting and watching the video.
It’s unknown whether he was watching the video, which was still playing, during the crash. Ramsey told investigators he was having a problem with his eye or his contact lenses.
In addition, the report indicated that Ramsey was using dipping tobacco during the incident and was not wearing his seat belt, the news station reported. Both of those actions are against the department’s policy.
Gwinnett police would not say why other charges were not filed against Ramsey. It remains unclear why the department did not turn over the investigation to the Georgia State Patrol, who had troopers respond to the scene.
Ramsey also told the news station he wouldn’t comment on the incident.
In September, Ramsey was demoted and “prohibited from driving or operating a Gwinnett County vehicle for any reason,” according to his disciplinary records obtained by Channel 2. This was also the eighth wreck Ramsey had been involved in where he was allegedly found to be at fault.
“This wasn’t an accident,” Witt said. “This was a serious collision that should have and could have been avoided.”
Wood said she has amassed more than $500,000 worth of medical bills stemming from this incident.
Her attorney is in talks with the county about a settlement, Channel 2 reported. No other information on that potential settlement was provided.
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