NWGA Scanner | January 23rd, 2022

Fleeing driver killed Sunday morning after GSP trooper uses PIT to end pursuit on I-75 in Catoosa County

According to a Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office report, on Sunday, January 23rd, 2022, at around 2:27 AM, a deputy heard Dalton Police Department officer attempting to stop a silver BMW for several traffic violations after leaving The Oyster Pub at 933 Market Street. The vehicle failed to pull over and fled from officers onto I-75. According to a Whitfield County 911 CAD and a Dalton Police Department incident report, a DPD officer spotted the 2008 BMW 535I unoccupied in the parking lot of the Oyster Pub. The officer found the vehicle did not have valid insurance and that the Tennessee temporary tag did not return to the vehicle,” according to the report. That officer and a second officer who responded saw a “loaded assault rifle (AR-15) sitting (on) the back seat floorboard of the vehicle. The officers left to respond to a call. A Dalton Police Department lieutenant attempted to stop the BMW after observing several traffic infractions. According to the report, “The suspect vehicle then made an evasive action onto the northbound exit ramp onto I-75. The officers turned off their lights and sirens and told dispatch the vehicle was fleeing and to issue a BOLO to the surrounding county.” Officers advised Whitfield County only one occupant was in the vehicle and that they would have multiple charges once the driver was stopped and identified. According to Hamilton County Criminal Court Records, the driver, who was later identified as Jeffrey Demar Thomas Jr., 24, of Chattanooga, TN, is a convicted felon who can not be in possession of a firearm. Records show Thomas was a “known gang member” who had a very lengthy criminal record including felony convictions for felony evading arrest, possession of firearm during a violent crime, and felony reckless endangerment. The deputy then observed the silver BMW traveling northbound on I-75 at a high rate of speed. The deputy observed the vehicle driving recklessly at speeds over 100 mph. According to the report, “The deputy also noticed that the vehicle failed to maintain its lane near 337 and then observed the BMW drive onto the right-hand shoulder. There were not any vehicles in front of the BMW to cause it to drive off the roadway.” The deputy attempted a traffic stop as well, turning on his emergency lights and sirens. The driver Jeffrey Demar Thomas Jr. field to stop and initiated a pursuit with the deputy increasing speed to over 110 mph. The deputy advised a Georgia State Patrol Trooper he was requesting assistance from GSP. According to the report, “The vehicle continued north on I-75 making improper lane changes, speeding, and driving recklessly. A GSP Trooper caught up to the chase around the 342-mile marker. The deputy then advised the trooper to take over the chase.” Catoosa County Deputies were informed of the chase and joined the chase at exit 345. According to the report, Thomas was driving erratically and recklessly. Due to Thomas’s driving manner becoming dangerous to the public, the trooper decided to perform a Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) to terminate the pursuit. The trooper conducted the PIT on I-75 northbound at mile marker 351 in Catoosa County. The PIT was successful, bringing the fleeing vehicle to a stop. The vehicle went East and struck the guard rail. The deputy observed Thomas had been ejected from the vehicle and was lying beside the vehicle.

PREVIOUS: According to the Georgia State Patrol, “These are the preliminary investigative findings, and this crash is still under investigation. On January 23rd, 2022, at 2:26 a.m., the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department was in a pursuit with a silver BMW passenger car on Interstate 75 North and requested the Georgia State Patrol’s assistance.  A trooper responded and took the primary position on Interstate 75 North in Catoosa County. A P.I.T. maneuver was performed near mile marker 351 to terminate the pursuit.  The BMW traveled off the roadway, striking a guardrail and overturned.  The driver, Mr. Jeffery Demar Thomas Jr. 24, of Chattanooga, TN, was ejected and suffered fatal injuries. The Georgia State Patrol’s Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team is assisting with this crash investigation.” We are still working to learn the details regarding what lead up to the felony pursuit which started in Dalton.