CEDARTOWN, Ga. — There's outrage and a swift reaction following the release of a Reveal investigation into a deadly crash, including confirmation of possible charges and a Georgia representative calling for another to resign.
Polk County District Attorney Jack Browning says he was made aware of the report and felt compelled to release more information on where the case stands.
That case is the death of Eric Keais in September, which the county coroner ruled as a "hit and run homicide."
A driver hit Keais while he was riding his bicycle down North Main Street in Cedartown.
The driver, 37-year-old Ralph "Ryan" Dover III, kept driving and instead of calling 911, he called Georgia Representative Trey Kelley. Our investigation found Kelley then called Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome at home.
No one called 911 and Keais laid in the ditch for an hour before a police sergeant found him. About 45 minutes later, he was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Five months since the deadly crash, no charges have been filed in the case.
But Monday, Browning released a statement in response to The Reveal's findings, saying "the investigation, like many other fatality investigations, was lengthy, involving numerous witness interviews and evidence gathered from various agencies and other entities."
He went on to say, he is currently reviewing the case and plans to take it to the Grand Jury within the next few weeks. The Polk County Grand Jury convenes next week and again in March. Browning says he hopes to present his case at one of those meetings.
The attorney for Keais' family says that's a stark difference in what the DA told her a week before 11Alive publish our investigation.
Min Koo says, in her conversation with the district attorney, Browning indicated he's had the investigative files for some time, but did not have a timeline for action. After pressing further, she says, Browning told her that he hoped to have a decision by this summer.
The DA confirms to The Reveal that he spoke with the Keais' family attorney and says he has had the completed investigative files for a couple of weeks now, but he doesn't recall giving the attorney that timeline.
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Browning won't say if Kelley or Newsome will face any charges in this case. But he did say his office is working "to determine what and who will be charged for the incident."
Georgia Representative Renitta Shannon has called for the resignation of Kelley, saying "if you don't have the good sense to call 911 after you see evidence of a possible hit and run, you can't possibly represent 50k Georgians."
POLK DA BROWNING FULL STATEMENT:
The Georgia State Patrol recently turned over to our office their completed investigation of the incident which occurred on September 11, 2019, involving 38-year-old, Mr. Eric Keais, being struck and killed by a motorist while riding his bicycle on Main Street, north of Cedartown.
The investigation, like many other fatality investigations, was lengthy, involving numerous witness interviews and evidence gathered from various agencies and other entities. This commonly slows and adds to the time necessary to complete such an investigation. It is also not unusual or uncommon for the Georgia State Patrol to defer to, and work with, the District Attorney’s Office in determining the correct charges.
Our office has already begun the process of reviewing the investigation to determine what and who will be charged for the incident that resulted in Mr. Keais’s tragic death. I anticipate bringing those charges to a Polk County Grand Jury soon in the coming weeks. On behalf of myself and the District Attorney's Office, our deepest condolences go out to Mr. Keais’s family for their tragic loss.
More of this exclusive Reveal Investigation:
The Reveal is an investigative show exposing inequality, injustice, and ineptitude created by people in power throughout Georgia and across the country. It airs Sunday nights at 6 on 11Alive.