A South Georgia community is demanding answers after police in the area fired into a car with children inside of it after earlier suspecting the car’s driver of a traffic violation. Dominique Goodman Sr., the father of the children involved in the incident, told News4Jax all five children were riding in a vehicle together when older teens in the vehicle noticed a police car tailing them with no lights on and got scared. The teens told the younger children to get out of the car, and police ended up shooting at the remaining children, Goodman said. The children were trying to return home to go to a football tournament two of the children were playing in Saturday in Jacksonville, Goodman said.
“They shot at a car full of unarmed minors. A car full of unarmed children. Like who in the world can’t see that this is a 9-year-old? Who can’t see that this is a child? They look like children,” Goodman told News4Jax. “They are babies. What was the purpose of shooting?”
The Waycross Police Department has requested the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to look into the shooting. According to the Bureau, Waycross police were attempting to get license plate information on the vehicle at about 8 a.m. Saturday when 9-year-old, 12-year-old, and 14-year-old passengers inside the car ran out of the vehicle.
“A second officer responded to assist while the first officer followed the three minors in his vehicle,” the GBI said. “As the second officer began to approach the vehicle from the front, the vehicle drove towards him. The officer fired multiple times at the vehicle.”
A 15-year-old teen and 16-year-old then got out of the car while it was still moving, and the vehicle later came to a stop, the GBI reported. “The minor was eventually secured in handcuffs,” the agency said. “He was treated by EMS for minor injuries from the altercation.” The children who initially got out of the vehicle returned home with no injuries, and the initial responding officer returned to the scene after hearing gunshots. “No officers were injured during the incident,” the GBI said.
The 16-year-old faces charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, stop sign violation, reckless driving, aggravated assault on a police officer, and driving without a license, police told News4Jax. The 15-year-old faces charges of possession of a handgun by a minor, felony obstruction of an officer, and attempting to remove a firearm from an officer.
Goodman, who showed News4Jax cellphone footage of his teens being apprehended, told the news station he pleaded with officers not to shoot them. “They’re minors man! Please!” he reportedly said.
Goodman had stepped outside of his home after hearing the gunshots. “We open the door, we see my 9-year-old, my 12-year-old and a 14-year-old running from the police behind them with gunshots coming behind them,” the father told News4Jax. “We go down the street and we see our 15-year-old and our 16-year-old on the ground.”
Goodman told the news station they live in “a good neighborhood” with neighbors who “are basically kin.” “To hear gunshots in this neighborhood and to see that it’s our kids being shot at, and everybody in the neighborhood knows our kids. They know they’re not bad kids,” Goodman said. “Our kids almost lose their lives to go to a football game? Man, that’s crazy. That’s crazy. Almost lose their lives going to the football game.”
Ferrell Malone, pastor of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church, said during a community meeting that he is trying to determine what had happened and has reached out to the children’s parents, Waycross Mayor Michael-Angelo James as well as the city’s police chief. “This is a tragic situation. My personal opinion is that under no circumstances should the use of force been expressed with minors on the scene,” Malone said.
Gerald Griggs, an attorney and vice president of Atlanta’s NAACP chapter, tweeted that in less than 24 hours there have been four officer-involved shootings in Georgia. “This new normal should not be taken lightly, the public deserves real answers and transparency on these issues. #WeAreDoneDying.” he said in the tweet.