By PoliceOne Staff

OGLETHORPE COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia sheriff has hired a rookie officer who was fired after a fleeing suspect was hit by his patrol car.

Fox News reports that former Athens-Clarke County Officer Taylor Saulters was hired by the Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. Saulters, who will work as a deputy, was fired over the weekend after body cam footage captured his patrol car colliding with a fleeing suspect.

“In talking to Saulters the first question he asked was if our citizens supported law enforcement,” Oglethorpe County Sheriff David Gabriel said. “Without hesitation I assured him they did and that we have excellent people that live in our county. I have no reservations about Dep. Saulters serving this community.”

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Recent news on personnel changes at the Sheriff’s Office. I am sad to say that Dep. Noah Hart will be leaving us to…

Posted by David Gabriel on Monday, June 4, 2018

On Friday, Saulters and another officer were pursuing Timmy Patmon, who was wanted on a felony warrant. Saulters pursued the suspect in his vehicle while his colleague pursued him on foot.

Police said Saulters’ vehicle hit a curb, flattening the front tire on the driver’s side, during an attempt to block Patmon’s path. Patmon moved in front of Saulters’ vehicle and was hit. Police said Saulters was maneuvering in an attempt to accelerate past Patmon.

An internal affairs report said Saulters used excessive force and found that the LEO “used poor judgement in using his patrol vehicle as a means to apprehend a fleeing suspect.”

“Had the suspect committed an offense that would have warranted the use of deadly force, Officer Saulters’ actions may have been objectively reasonable and would have been evaluated under such facts.” the report said. “There are no facts that were uncovered that would have led to the justification of this level of use of force in this incident.”

The report also said Saulters “never intended to hit Patmon” or use “the vehicle as a weapon.”

Saulters’ attorney, Philip Holloway, told the Atlanta-Journal Constitution that the internal investigation is “not reflective of the truth.”

“This was not a ‘use of deadly force’ incident. It was incidental contact, caused in large measure by the unlawful actions of a fleeing fugitive felon, including his erratic movements while in flight, following a burst front tire which hindered (Saulters’) ability to control his patrol car,” Holloway said.

Patmon, who sustained scrapes and bruises, was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the collision. He was later booked into jail and faces several charges, including obstruction of an officer.

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