NWGA Scanner | November 4th, 2022
According to a Georgia State Patrol incident report, On Thursday, September 22nd, 2022, at 11:08 PM, Trooper Elsberry and MCCD Officer Sturdivan were in a single-vehicle crash on I-75 South around mile marker 328. When they observed a white 2012 Mini Cooper with a red stripe and a Tennessee license plate of BJV4722 that had fled from a Ringgold PD officer earlier. The vehicle fled on I-75 southbound around mile marker 345 at speeds over 100 mph. MCCD Officer Sturdivan pulled out behind Trooper Elsberry to assist with an attempted traffic stop on the vehicle. The driver, later identified as Michael Makale Benning, 23, of Chattanooga, TN, initiated a pursuit and began driving extremely recklessly, almost causing multiple car crashes. MCCD Officer Sturdivan reported, “The entire time the driver was driving recklessly [I] was very concerned if the pursuit did not end that he was going to kill someone the way he was driving with total disregard to not just himself but the surrounding public on the roadway.” Trooper Elsberry reported, “Benning was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed and weaving across all lanes of the interstate. Benning was passing on the right shoulder and splitting in between tractor-trailers. The reckless nature of Benning and interstate traffic ruled out the use of stop sticks and the box-in technique to end the pursuit. Benning and [I] finally came to a stretch of roadway that had no traffic. [I] setup on the vehicle’s rear passenger side quarter panel for a P.I.T. (Precision Immobilization Technique) maneuver. [I] knew that we were traveling at an extremely high rate of speed (Approximately 120 MPH), and this would be very dangerous. [I] considered the lives that were previously put at risk and could see that we were approaching more traffic rapidly. [I] noticed that there was a clear area off the right side of the roadway and planned to make Benning’s vehicle go into that clearing. [I] performed a successful P.I.T. maneuver on this vehicle but lost control of my patrol vehicle. Benning’s vehicle and my patrol vehicle crashed off the right side of the roadway. When my patrol vehicle came to a final rest, [I] cut my seat belt off using my pocketknife and cut away the driver’s side window airbag. [I] saw Benning running into the wood line and exited my patrol vehicle through the driver-side window. [I] drew my service weapon and began giving Benning loud verbal commands to show me his hands and come out from the woods.” MCCD Officer Sturdivan, DNR, and Gordon County County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived on the scene to assist. Benning was then located in the woods directly across from where the trooper had seen him go in. Corporal Flowers located a camouflage backpack with approximately two pounds of marijuana. Benning was treated at Hamilton Medical Center for a broken wrist and then booked into the Whitfield County Jail charged with sale of or intent to sell marijuana, misdemeanor willful obstruction of law officers, reckless driving, speeding, felony fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer, improper lane change or usage, failure to maintain lane and driving with a suspended or revoked license.