Chatsworth man facing felony charges after high-speed chase ends in crash on I-75 in Whitfield Co.
According to a Whitfield County Sheriff's Office incident report on Monday December 16, 2019 at approximately 5:02 PM Deputy Peden was assisting the Narcotics Unit who was located at 175 Waterfront Way at America's Best Inn and Suites, which is the last address on a dead end street with one entrance and one exit. Narcotics Investigators advised Deputy Peden that a white 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix with a female driver later identified as Haley Danielle Williams, 26, of Calhoun and passenger later identified as Joshua Dwight Hunter, 33 p, of Chatsworth pulled into the hotel, switched positions in the vehicle, and immediately left. According to the report Deputy Peden was advised by multiple Law Enforcement Officers on scene that it was determined there was reasonable suspicion that a crime had been or was being committed. Whitfield County Sheriff Deputy Peden observed the vehicle leave Waterfront Way and turn onto I-75 Northbound. Deputy Peden attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the 2005 Pontiac Grand Prix using emergency lights at mile marker 331. Mr. Hunter began to increase his speed with the deputy continuing behind him. Hunter increased speeds, well above that of surrounding traffic and began changing lanes, not using turn signals, overtaking vehicles with inadequate room to safely maneuver his vehicle. Deputy Peden initiated his siren and pursued Hunter north on I-75. As they approached of Exit 333 (Walnut Avenue) on I-75, Hunter still driving reckless changed from the far left lane to the far right lane trying to pass vehicles. Hunter approached a semi truck at a high rate of speed and locked his brakes to avoid colliding with the semi truck. Hunter lost control of the vehicle striking the median guard rail which forced the vehicle back across the roadway to the shoulder of the northbound side of I-75, leaving the roadway
down the embankment south of the exit ramp. Deputy Peden conducted a Felony Stop on the occupants. Deputy Peden observed Hunter move to the rear
passenger side seat from inside the vehicle. Due to the difference in elevation between Deputy Peden and the vehicle, sun glare off the windows, and damage to the vehicle, Deputy Peden lost a visual on hunters body from the
shoulders down. According to the report Hunter to appear to be in a defensive position in the vehicle, and moving erratically behind the seat. According to the report Hunter maintained eye contact with Deputy Peden. With the
observations of Mr. Hunter's manifestations in mind, Deputy Peden's training, knowledge, and experience, and the totality of the circumstances, Deputy Peden felt that the way Mr. Hunter was positioning himself in the vehicle,
maintaining visual contact with Deputy Peden, but concealing himself as if he were using Ms. Williams as cover, that he was no longer in a flight response to fear and adrenaline but the fight response. Deputy Peden was fearful that
some sort of engagement was about to ensue, and felt that his safety was in jeopardy due to Hunter having a tactical advantage. Deputy Peden began to move back to his patrol vehicle to find cover. As Deputy Peden stepped backwards, he lost his footing on the embankment. As Deputy Peden attempted to regain balance, Hunter exited his vehicle and began fleeing on foot. Deputy Peden pursued Hunter on foot. When Hunter approached a barbed wire fence, he could not maneuver through or over the fence before Deputy Peden caught up to him. Deputy Peden gave verbal commands multiple times to get on the ground and show his hands. Mr. Hunter failed to comply with Deputy Peden's
instructions not keeping his hands visible, or getting onto the ground. Hunter turned away from Deputy Peden toward the nearest avenue of least resistance and began moving away from Deputy Peden. Deputy Peden discharged
his taser making positive contact with Hunter. Hunter fell to the ground for the duration of the taser cycle. Deputy Peden again continuously gave clear audible verbal commands to. Hunter to roll to his stomach and to show his hands. Mr. Hunter complied rolling away from Deputy Peden. Hunter started lowering his arms and hands as he began rolling over. Deputy Peden administered a second cycle from his taser to Hunter as he started lowering his arms and hands toward the direction of his abdomen. Additional Officers had still not arrived on scene. Deputy Peden was now between Hunter and the vehicle that was still occupied by Ms. Williams. Due to these circumstances, as well as Hunter previously reaching around behind the passenger seat out of view of Deputy Peden, it was not confirmed that Hunter or Ms. Williams was unarmed nor had Ms. Williams been secured yet. These circumstances increased Deputy Peden`s heightened level of awareness, risk and threat assessment caused by reaction to hand movement in fear Hunter was going to attempt to either elude again, fight, or produce a weapon from his person. After Hunter was tased a second time, he immediately complied with Deputy Peden's commands, laying on his stomach with his arms out in plain view. Whitfield County Deputy R. Townsend arrived on scene as Hunter was taken into custody. Deputy R. Townsend located a plastic bag with a large amount of crystal like substance with the common appearance of Methamphetamine on Hunter's person. The Narcotics Unit was requested. The crash investigation was handled by the Georgia State Patrol. Ms. Williams was treated for injury and released. Hunter was transported to the Whitfield County
Jail charge with possess methamphetamine, possess to distribute methamphetamine, possession and use of drug related objects, reckless driving, improper lane change or usage, driving without a valid license, fleeing/ attempting to elude police officer, failure to maintain lane, and basic rules; too fast for conditions.