Whitfield County sheriff: Fleeing man was 'major threat to other traffic'

Whitfield County Sheriff Scott Chitwood said Zachary Lumpkin, the Resaca man who died on Thursday after a deputy used a PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver on the vehicle he was driving, had outstanding felony failure to appear warrants for possession of and receiving stolen property, driving with a suspended license and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Chitwood said the sheriff's office had "received information" that Lumpkin was "in the area" in south Whitfield County Thursday night. He said when a deputy, who was normally assigned to the Drug Unit but who was temporarily assigned to the Patrol Division, tried to stop the vehicle driven by Lumpkin, Lumpkin fled.

"We had had contact with Mr. Lumpkin earlier in the week," Chitwood said. "He ran and evaded law enforcement at the time. We had contact with him Thursday evening and attempted to make a lawful stop, using the lights and sirens. He again refused to stop. He was driving at a high rate of speed, was driving erratically, traveling south on 41 in the northbound lane. We felt like he was a major threat to other traffic, and the officer made the decision to exercise the PIT maneuver."

Jail records show Lumpkin was arrested by the sheriff's office in July 2017 for theft by receiving a stolen vehicle, cruelty to children, reckless conduct, willful obstruction of law officers and fleeing/attempting to elude a police officer.

According to a Georgia State Patrol motor vehicle crash report, on Thursday Lumpkin was driving a 1992 Ford Ranger south on Highway 41/State Route 3 near Robin Hood Drive in southern Whitfield County at about 7:45 p.m.

The report said Lumpkin was “fleeing” from a “marked” sheriff’s office patrol car “with blue lights and siren activated” driven by Deputy Christopher Hicks. The report said the deputy “performed a PIT maneuver to terminate the pursuit” while the Ranger was traveling south “in the north travel lane.” The patrol car struck the Ranger “in the right rear with the left front of” the patrol car.

The Ranger “rotated clockwise and slid sideways onto the west shoulder until going airborne.” The driver’s side of the Ranger struck a power pole, and the vehicle “overturned, coming to an uncontrolled final rest facing southwest on the west shoulder on its top side.”

Lumpkin, 25, and a passenger, Shadow Stanley, 20, of Dalton, were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, according to Whitfield County Coroner Greg Bates.

Chitwood said the PIT maneuver is something deputies train on.

Hicks is assigned to the Drug Unit, but temporarily assigned to the Patrol Division, according to Chitwood.

"We are having to rotate some of our investigators into the Patrol Division on a temporary assignment due to a shortage of manpower," Chitwood said.

Asked if Hicks is up-to-date on all of his training, including use of the PIT maneuver, Chitwood said he is.

Hicks was not injured. He is on paid administrative leave while the crash is being investigated.

In addition to an investigation by the Georgia State Patrol's Specialized Collision Reconstruction Team (SCRT), the sheriff's office is conducting a use of force investigation.

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