GBI: 2 shot after traffic stop near Augusta leads to exchange of gunfire

The GBI is investigating a Thursday afternoon shooting involving a deputy at an apartment complex near Augusta. One officer was shot.

Combined ShapeCaption
The GBI is investigating a Thursday afternoon shooting involving a deputy at an apartment complex near Augusta. One officer was shot.

A woman and a Richmond County sheriff’s deputy were both shot Thursday during an exchange of gunfire near Augusta after she ran away from a traffic stop, pulled a gun from her purse and fired as the deputy pursued her, according to the GBI.

Ladeeje Harvey was shot twice in the legs after she fired at Deputy John Tarpley, the GBI said Friday in a news release. Harvey, 25, and Tarpley were both taken to Augusta University Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries and released Thursday night. Upon her release from the hospital, Harvey was booked into the Richmond County Jail.

The Augusta woman faces two counts of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and second-degree cruelty to children, GBI officials indicated.

Tarpley is recovering at home, according to Richmond Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

“This was another senseless act of gun violence,” Roundtree said during a press conference Friday morning. “She put deputies at great risk, as well as her 5-year-old child. We’re truly blessed that no one was killed.”

The incident began shortly before 4 p.m. when deputies pulled over a white Chevrolet Impala on Lumpkin Road near the Charlestowne South apartments, authorities said. The Impala was driven by Darius Rivera, while Harvey was sitting in the passenger seat and her 5-year-old son was sitting in the rear, according to the sheriff. The deputies said they could smell marijuana and asked the driver to step out of the car.

The GBI said Harvey grabbed her son from the back seat, and began walking away from the traffic stop, ignoring Tarpley’s orders for her to stay in the car. At some point, she ran to her apartment door and was able to get in but deputies were not far behind. Deputy Dontavion Jones managed to stop Harvey from going inside, causing a struggle at her front entrance. During the skirmish, Harvey pulled a revolver from her purse and fired multiple rounds at officers, the state agency said.

Harvey shot Tarpley as he entered the apartment. The officer was wearing a ballistic vest, but the bullet wounded him in the upper chest just above his body armor, Roundtree said. Jones returned fire and hit Harvey in the legs, but she continued to run. She was found and taken into custody nearby.

Roundtree noted that Harvey opened fire while her son was standing between her and the deputies.

“Having your 5-year-old child directly in the line of fire, as a parent that’s something I really just can’t comprehend,” Roundtree said.

The 5-year-old was not seriously injured. He was treated at the scene for a cut to his knee that required stitches and released into the care of a relative, according to the sheriff.

Roundtree said both deputies involved in Thursday’s shooting joined the department in 2018. The two officers were wearing body cameras. Roundtree said the footage is being reviewed by the sheriff’s office’s internal affairs investigators. Copies of the body cam footage have also been provided to the GBI, according to the sheriff.

While there was no timeline for Tarpley’s return, the prognosis for his recovery was good, Roundtree said. Jones, meanwhile, will remain on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the GBI investigation per department procedure, the sheriff told reporters.

The incident marked the 55th officer-involved shooting investigated by the GBI this year.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also tracks officer-involved shootings that don’t involve the GBI, and those numbers sometimes differ from the GBI’s tally.