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Video shows ATV in violent collision with deputy after chase; charges downgraded

Both Reginald Hamilton and Deputy Edmund Fisher suffered life-threatening injuries from the crash at the foot of the Woodland Bridge over the Intercoastal Canal.

PLAQUEMINES PARISH, La. — Criminal charges against an 18-year-old New Orleans man after he struck a Plaquemines Parish deputy while fleeing on an ATV have been downgraded from attempted murder to aggravated second-degree battery as dash cam video of the collision and additional evidence did not support the higher charge in the eyes of prosecutors and a grand jury. 

Plaquemines Parish District Attorney Charles Ballay also confirmed that bail for Reginald Hamilton has been lowered from over $500,000 to $152,000, although Hamilton has remained in jail since he was released from the hospital following the May 31 crash. 

Hamilton’s family, who obtained a copy of the video from their defense attorney and shared it with WWL-TV, believe the footage shows that the deputies were the aggressors. They say the video doesn’t support any charges outside of traffic violations against the two teenagers on the ATVs. 

The video includes radio chatter between deputies. The chase begins at a relatively slow speed, but the deputies’ language turns inflammatory as the chase picks up speed. Hamilton's family says the deputies’ comments reveal that they had no intention of making a peaceful traffic stop. 

“There was no attempt to engage him in a peaceful manner. Everything from the perspective of the police officer was aggressive. It was uncalled for,” said Ashonta Wyatt, a family friend. 

At one point, a deputy can be heard as he pulls directly behind the two teens on the ATVS and says, “I'll f***ing bump you, brah.” It is unclear if the deputy’s car actually bumps the ATV. 

A short time later, as the chase picks up urgency, a deputy is heard saying, “Smoke em. Smoke em.” 

The next thing we see on the video is Hamilton’s ATV hitting Lt. Edmund Fisher in the middle of the Woodland Bridge, which crosses over the Intercoastal Canal into the Cut-Off neighborhood of Algiers where Hamilton lives.

Both Hamilton and Deputy Edmund Fisher suffered life-threatening injuries from the crash in the middle of the bridge. Fisher’s leg and hip were badly injured, forcing doctors to amputate his right leg above the knee. He was released from the hospital Tuesday as a large contingent of deputies and officers gathered in Belle Chasse to welcome him home. 

Hamilton was initially in a coma after suffering a head injury. He was released from the hospital and booked into jail about a week after the crash.  His mother, Schnell Clark, said the video shows there was no intent to commit any crime.

“He needs help. Somebody was in a coma, they need medical treatment. Right now as we're speaking, he needs medical treatment,” Clark said in an exclusive interview with WWL-TV on Wednesday.

“I just want justice. Basically, I want him home,” Clark said. “He's been gone from me for a month a two weeks for lies, untruths. You know, just take his freedom from him. Take my rights from me.”

Defense attorney Ryan Thompson of Baton Rouge says the video evidence does not appear to support the original characterization by Sheriff Jerry Turlich that Hamilton intentionally rammed the deputy.

The day after the crash, Turlich held a press conference and said, “The bike would have missed him. At the last second it veered right at the officer,” Turlich said in a press conference shortly after the accident.”

In that original characterization of the crash, Turlich said his deputies began to chase the two men after they failed to stop on the officers’ orders, something Hamilton’s family disputes.

Fisher had driven ahead of Hamilton and got out of his marked car to lay a spike strip across the road, Turlich said at the time. The video shows that Fisher was about six feet away from his car when he was hit.

From the first days after the crash, Hamilton’s family insisted that he never would intentionally cause a crash.

Wyatt said Hamilton and his friend had been setting out some fishing lines on the other side of the bridge earlier that night. She said Hamilton had never been in trouble with the law.

“I'm going to stand on what I said months ago,” Wyatt said. “He did not have any intent to harm anybody. His only intent was to safely get on the other side of the Woodland Bridge.” 

WWL-TV reached out to the Plaquemines Sheriff’s Office for comment Wednesday, but did not get a response.

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