Columbus police cruiser hits and kills woman, family hires attorney | News
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM)- What should've been a night of fun quickly turned tragic. A Phenix City woman was walking across the street when the unthinkable happened.
"Not only did she get hit, she got carried, and when the car stopped, it threw her," eyewitness Ivan Kauffmann said.
The call came in around 12:42 a.m. Sunday morning. Witnesses told News Leader 9 Jaquess Harris, 26, was crossing the street heading towards Club Ciroc in Columbus, when she was struck and killed by a Columbus police cruiser driven by 26-year-old Kelly MacDonell.
Muscogee County Coroner Bill Thrower pronounced Harris dead on the scene at 1:27 a.m. "It looked like the skid marks were at least 30 feet long. He couldn't have been going the speed limit which is 30 to 35," Kauffmann said.
The details are scarce but another source says the skid marks stretched at least 100 feet. The police cruiser's windshield was completely shattered and the front bumper dented.
Several witnesses on the scene said MacDonell was traveling at a high rate of speed and did not have his emergency lights on.
"It appears and it's reported to us at this time that he was responding to another unit as a back-up unit," Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said.
Boren said it depends on the type of call the officer is responding to that determines whether or not law enforcement is required to turn on their emergency lights.
Mayor Tomlinson went to the scene where the young woman lost her life.
"It does appear to be a not very well-lit area, from where the street lights are posted. At this time, we don't know exactly what happened," Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said.
"They didn't turn the headlights on until after they pulled the cop out of the car," said Kauffmann. "They took him out the car and they put him in a Tahoe police car. They didn't turn the headlights on until after the accident."
We're told Harris' twin sister was there when she was killed. "I've already reached out to the family. I told them at the appropriate moment, I'm willing to meet with them and express the formal condolences of the city," said Mayor Tomlinson.
MacDonell is a fairly new officer, joining the force in June of 2011. For now, Officer MacDonell has been placed on administrative leave with pay.
We've been unable to find out the nature of the call MacDonell was responding to. Georgia State Patrol is investigating the case.
Harris' body will be sent to Atlanta Tuesday for autopsy.
Harris is from Detroit, Michigan. She has lived in Phenix City for the past 7 years, along with her twin sister. Meanwhile, the family has hired Attorney Stacey Jackson to lrepresent them.
"Jaquess' sister is in shock. Seeing the death of her sister right there. Also, having the opportunity to see all the injuries that she suffered as a result of the accident," Jackson said.
Jackson told News Leader 9 it's too early to tell where the investigation will lead.
News Leader 9 is following this story. We'll have the latest information as soon as it becomes available.
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