Two of three men who were allegedly involved in the high-speed car chase Monday appeared in Recorder's Court today to face charges stemming from the incident.
Columbus residents Jamal Quintavious Watkins, 19 and Christian Jones, 21, pleaded not guilty to all charges. Watkins was faced with one count each of fleeing and attempting to elude police, reckless driving, failure to report upon striking a fixture, no proof of insurance, driving on a suspended license, burglary and theft by taking motor vehicle. Jones faced one count theft by taking motor vehicle, first-degree burglary and obstruction of a police officer.
Watkins was issued bonds totaling $484,000 and Jones was issued bonds totaling $37,250.
Police were notified about a burglary and Friday car theft that occurred at separate locations in Columbus. A television was stolen from the home and a red Toyota Camry with a reported valued of about $25,000 was taken in the car theft.
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Columbus Police Maj. J.D. Hawk said Monday that the stolen vehicle was used in car burglaries.
Columbus Police Officer Aaron Evrard told the court that he spotted the vehicle at about 11:03 a.m. Monday near the intersection of Airport Thruway and Armour Road.
Evrard said he made a U-turn to initiate a traffic stop on the Camry, and the driver accelerated to a high-rated speed and weaved through traffic.The driver reached speeds of more than 90 mph in an area where the speed limit was no more than 30 mph.
"I initiated my emergency equipment," Evrard said. "By the time I got to the area of Whitesville Road and Airport Thruway, I could no longer see the suspect vehicle. I called out all of this information over the radio and units began responding to the area."
After a couple turns, Evrard spotted the vehicle on at the intersection of Whitesville Road and Airport Thruway. When he made a second attempt to stop the Toyota Camry, it turned off of Whitesville Road and into a SunTrust Bank parking lot and in front of Boo's Package Store.
The driver left the parking lot and speed north on Whitesville Road. Columbus police officer Justin Chappell was traveling south on Whitesville Road and made a u-turn and positioned his patrol vehicle between Evrard's car and the Toyota Camry, according to the Evrard's testimony.
The officers continued to chase the suspects as they ran stop lights and swerved between traffic without signaling, police said.
When Evrard lost sight of the vehicle, Chappell continued to chase the suspects. The driver of the stolen vehicle was traveling on River Road attempting to make a right-handed turn at the intersection of 49th Street when he lost control of the vehicle. The driver struck at electric pole and fire hydrant at the intersection, Evrard said.
Authorities have not determine who was the driver.
Evrard said three males exited the vehicle and traveled ran south on Drew Avenue. Officials said Watkins finally collapsed in a wooded area.
"He had a very difficult time walking," Evrard said. "He was completely exhausted from running and he need help to get back to my patrol vehicle."
Jones was also arrested on the scene, but police have not arrested the third suspect.
Both individuals said they were in pain as a result of the wreck, but medics determined that they were not injured.
The officer said Watkins spoke to him about the incident before he had a chance to question him.
"The first thing he told me was that he was only in the back seat of the car, and he was not driving," Evrard said. "He also stated that he got a ride from those guys in the car between the first time I got behind the car and the second time I got behind the car. How he got the knowledge that I got behind the car on two separate occasions, I don't know and I didn't ask him."