A speeding stolen Chevrolet Cavalier caught the attention of a deputy Tuesday night and three men were arrested after a wild chase through Statesboro.
Bulloch County sheriff’s Cpl. Reynaldo Rodriguez was patrolling on Georgia Highway 67 around 10:20 p.m. when he spotted the 2005 Cavalier speeding as it traveled north, Bulloch County Sheriff Lynn Anderson said.
After he turned around to pursue the car, Rodriguez ran the tag and learned it had been stolen earlier from Savannah. He switched on his blue lights and tried pulling the car over, but “the vehicle’s driver never hesitated and fled,” Anderson said.
Calling for assistance, Rodriguez pursued the car into Statesboro, and the driver, later determined to be Dominic Manwell Williams, 19, of 33rd Street in Savannah, “drove in an extremely reckless manner,” Anderson said.
Williams crossed into oncoming traffic, passed vehicles at high rates of speed and ignored traffic signals, the sheriff said.
Other deputies, as well as Statesboro police, Georgia State Patrol troopers and Georgia Southern University officers, joined the chase and stopped traffic at intersections.
Then, using training he and other Bulloch County sheriff’s deputies received, Rodriguez performed a Pursuit Intervention Technique, or PIT, maneuver to stop Williams.
Bulloch County sheriff’s Capt. Todd Mashburn, who handles training including the PIT maneuver, said the tactic involves an officer placing his front bumper against the fleeing vehicle’s rear bumper, matching the speed of the fleeing car, and “giving it a shove or bump” to cause the other vehicle’s rear end to spin out of control.
The PIT maneuver was successful, resulting in no injuries and only slight property damage to a sign and shrubbery at a South Main Street business, he said.
About a year ago, Anderson authorized certification of several deputies to be trained in PIT maneuvers. He said Rodriguez is certified to perform the tactic.
The maneuver, allowed by Georgia law at lower speeds, is used when a fleeing driver endangers others, Mashburn said.
It was “determined that (Williams’) aggressive driving was a danger to public safety and should be stopped,” Anderson said.
The maneuver ended the chase on South Main Street near Mikell Street. All three occupants of the car — Williams as well as Dionysisus Trammelle Hearns, 20, of Cordell Street in Savannah, and Jesse Tyron Sanders, 23, of Buchan Road in Pembroke — were taken into custody, he said.
Williams was charged with theft by taking motor vehicle, felony theft by receiving stolen property, speeding/attempt to elude, no driver’s license, failure to maintain lane, failure to obey traffic device and driving on the wrong side of the road.
Hearns and Sanders each were charged with theft by taking motor vehicle and felony theft by receiving stolen property.
Anderson said investigators believe the three intended to commit further crimes in Bulloch County, as evidence was collected from the car’s interior that indicated that intent.
Bulloch County sheriff’s Investigator Jared Akins added that the fact the car had freshly been stolen and brought to Bulloch County also indicated possible intent to commit further crimes.
Other crimes in the area this year have involved offenders from other cities driving stolen cars. The fact that Williams aggressively tried to evade capture also indicates the three were possibly planning more crimes, Akins said.
All three suspects have significant criminal histories including property crimes such as theft and criminal trespass, Akins said.
Only Williams has a record with the Georgia Department of Corrections, listed as having served two months of a one-year sentence for interfering with an electronic device (ankle monitor). He has two convictions of that charge – one in Spalding County and one in Chatham County.
Anderson said investigators are still pursuing the case, working with Savannah-Chatham Metro Police regarding the stolen car.
He praised Rodriguez “for the recovery of the stolen vehicle and the way in which he handled the pursuit.”
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.