Deputies: Passenger recorded police chase on phone

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Deputies in Coweta County say they are considering charges against a motorist who they say interfered in a police chase while it appears a passenger recorded the events on a smartphone. 

Officials are not happy with what they saw on the road that day. It appears the driver of a pickup truck is intentionally driving alongside them in order to allow a passenger to record the police pursuit.

Deputies say body cam video appears to show that the passenger is using a smartphone to record the chase rather than getting out of the way. 

“So we don’t know if that driver is with the suspect or just trying to get his video on YouTube,” says Major Mark Finniger of the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office

Deputies were trying to position their patrol cars around a silver passenger car. They said the driver was wanted for a shoplifting case from Home Depot. When they turned on the blue lights, they say he kept driving for miles. 

As the lead patrol car was trying to move in for a pit maneuver, they said the video appears to show the pickup speeding up to to get a better angle.

“The number one thing always is when you see the light and sirens, move out of the way as safely as possible,” Finniger said.

Eventually, the deputies did perform the pit maneuver. The driver, identified as Justin Harp of Union City, was taken into custody. They said they also found a weapon in the car.

In reviewing the video of the chase, deputies said they were considering charges against the pickup truck as well, for what they said was endangering the public and law enforcement.

“It’s clearly a case of obstruction,” Finniger said.

It was overall a bad day for smartphone use; deputies said they later learned Justin Harp was on his phone during the chase on FaceTime with his wife. Along with fleeing, drug charges, driving on a suspended license, shoplifting, and fraud, Long also faces a distracted driver charge for using his phone in a live video chat on the road.

So far, no charges have been filed against the driver of the pickup truck.