VIDEO: Plaquemines ATV pursuit and crash sends deputy and rider to the hospital
“We are not trying to negate his responsibility for being on an off-road vehicle on the main road, we’re not saying that he wasn’t wrong. What we’re saying is the force with which the police engaged him did not measure up to the infraction that he committed by being on an ATV,” said family spokesperson Ashonta Wyatt.
BELLE CHASSE (WVUE) - Dramatic dashcam video captured Plaquemines Parish deputies pursuing two ATV riders in May, a chase that ended on the Woodland Highway Bridge when 18-year-old Reginald Hamilton collided with Deputy Edmund Fisher. While PPSO originally said Hamilton would be charged with attempted murder for swerving into Fisher, the family says the newly-released video casts doubt on Sheriff Turlich’s account.
The video, which FOX 8 obtained through Hamilton’s attorney, shows Hamilton and his friend, Kody Blanchard, riding ATVs on Woodland Highway in the early morning hours.
The beginning of the pursuit can be seen. As Hamilton and Blanchard drive slowly, the deputy driving bumps the back of Hamilton’s ATV, and the pair take off.
At one point, the two split off, with Hamilton heading onto the Woodland Highway Bridge.
“You wanna f---ing play,” the deputy can be heard saying in the dashcam. “F---ing smoke him! Smoke him!”
In the seconds that follow, Fisher can be seen standing in the roadway, with his vehicle on the shoulder.
The video shows Fisher apparently stepping in, trying to grab Hamilton as he drove the ATV. The two collide, Fisher knocked to the ground and Hamilton sent flying off his ATV.
After the crash, a deputy appears to put cuffs on Hamilton, but the video alleges he was left for 20 minutes without medical attention.
“When the police initially engaged Reginald, he wasn’t driving recklessly, he wasn’t endangering anyone, he was driving at an appropriate speed,” said Ashonta Wyatt, spokesperson for the family of Hamilton. “He shouldn’t have been on the main road, but at that point that was his only infraction.”
Sheriff Gerald Turlich, after the crash, held a press conference in which he alleged Hamilton had “intentionally swerved” into Fisher, saying he would be charged with attempted murder, among other charges.
But a parish grand jury returned with a lesser verdict: aggravated second-degree battery.
“We just want transparency and we want truth. And we believe the video more aligns with our stance than it does the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office,” Wyatt said. “It was hard to watch. I’m just not certain how the Sheriff saw that, and still stuck to the story he initially said.”
Wyatt said the video affirms what the family has maintained all along: Hamilton never intentionally hit Fisher.
“I don’t have a problem with law enforcement. I want to support law enforcement, but I want to support them when they’re equally supporting us, and in the same manner they’re respected, we want to be respected as well,” Wyatt said.
Hamilton, who went into a coma after the crash, eventually woke up but still has a traumatic brain injury, according to the family. He remains in the Plaquemines Parish Jail on a 152,000 bond, the family said.
Deputy Fisher’s right leg had to be amputated, according to a spokesperson for PPSO. He has a long road to recovery ahead, with extensive rehabilitation.
FOX 8 requested the full, unedited dashcam video, but the sheriff’s office declined to provide it, referring the matter to the district attorney. A request for an interview with Sheriff Turlich went unanswered.
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