Phenix City police issued on Wednesday a warrant for first-degree sodomy against the man accused of crashing a stolen ambulance into a 13th Street automotive shop in Columbus earlier this week.
Johnnie Carter, 36, is accused of inappropriately touching a boy younger than 2 last weekend at a Seale Road home. The child’s mother, who knows Carter, reported the allegation on Sunday to Phenix City police, said Capt. Frank Ivey.
“It was turned over to Investigations,” Ivey said. “Based on that accusation, a warrant was obtained for his arrest.”
Carter, who Columbus police say is a psychiatric patient, was at his Seale home Monday when his mother called Russell County deputies. Bonnie Spencer said her son didn’t know who she was, and deputies got an ambulance to take Carter to The Medical Center.
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Stephanie Spencer, Carter’s sister, said Carter was restrained when his family left the hospital at 8 p.m. Monday. Columbus police say that about four hours later Carter left the hospital and got inside an ambulance. A paramedic tried to stop Carter, who dragged the man about 20 feet before escaping.
Carter barrelled into PTAP, Personal Touch Automotive Playground, 306 13th Street, about five minutes later. Officers found him inside the business and arrested him, Officer Kenneth Culverson said.
Ivey said the hospital and Columbus police didn’t know about his office’s criminal investigation into Carter when the ambulance theft happened.
“We were still investigating it at that time,” he added.
The Medical Center released the following statement late Wednesday:
“Quality care and patient safety are of utmost concern to our organization.
“Mr. Carter was waiting to be transferred to the local hospital appropriate for treatment of his medical condition. However, due to a lack of bed space at the appropriate facility he was required to wait in the Emergency and Trauma Center at The Medical Center.
“We can confirm the family’s statement that Mr. Carter was restrained for a period of time. However, healthcare regulations limit the amount of time measures such as restraints and locked rooms may be used. The Emergency and Trauma Center continued to assess and provide supervision for the patient while he was in our facility. At approximately 11:40 p.m. several employees, in addition to the previously identified paramedic, witnessed Mr. Carter attempting to leave our facility. Our attempts to stop him were unsuccessful.”
Because of patient confidentiality, the hospital declined to release additional information.
Carter remained on Thursday in the Muscogee County Jail under $115,250 bond on charges of aggravated assault, auto theft, second-degree criminal damage to property and traffic offenses. Even if he made the bonds, Carter wouldn’t be released. Instead, he’d be taken to the Russell County Jail on the sodomy accusation.
It’s likely Carter will be prosecuted in Columbus before Russell County prosecutors proceed on the first-degree sodomy charge, said LaRae Moore, a senior assistant district attorney with the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office.
“Normally, whichever jurisdiction has him has the first opportunity to prosecute,” Moore added.