Grand Jury to decide whether to charge state lawmaker and others after deadly accident

Last September, Eric Keais was riding his red mountain style bike down North Main Street in Cedartown. Suddenly, he was hit from the rear by an SUV.

"My brother was in every right in where he was at when he got hit, he wasn't on the other side of the road. He wasn't in the middle of the road," said Keais. 

According to this police report, Keais was thrown down this brush covered embankment near the side of the road. 

"Alive, unconscious and bleeding internally. Needing help from us and nobody was there," said Keais.

Georgia State Patrol estimated the accident was around 8:30. A police report says the driver was a local man - Ryan Dover - seen here on the Justice for Eric Keais Facebook page.

According to the police report, Ryan Dover drove 7/10 of a mile to this gas station where he made a phone call. But, he didn't call 911. He didn't call the police. He called state representative Trey Kelley.

Kelly, a lawyer, is the powerful Republican Majority Whip at the State Capital.  

According to one police report, Representative Kelley told police Dover called him and said he hit something and it “might have been a deer but he wasn’t sure.”   


Representative Kelley told police he drove from home to meet Dover at a gas station and the two searched the scene and found a "bicycle in a ditch." 
Representative Kelly didn't call 911. Instead, he called police chief Jamie Newsome.

"You don't just go and look. You dial 911 first. None of them did that, said Keais.

In his police statement, Chief Newsome said he got the call at 9:11. 

That would be 41 minutes after the accident. 

After talking to Representative Kelly the chief quickly called an officer and expressed his fear that "a person had been hit."  

He didn't call 911 for an ambulance.

"None of them dialed 911. None of them. It’s like they didn’t take it seriously, said Keais.

The Sgt. arrived at the scene and within minutes found Eric Keais alive. He called for Fire Rescue and EMS.  

Eric Keais later died at the hospital due to "blunt force injuries of the head and torso" according to the autopsy. 

No one was charged with a crime.

Some in the community were stunned. A Facebook Page named Justice for Eric Keais sprang up raising questions, demanding answers. 

"Money and power is not everything. This young man, his life mattered, said page member Beverly Hamilton 

Hamilton and Brenda Pope are members of that Facebook group. They both are upset at what happened and how it has been handled.  

"This man is not alive. Justice hasn't been saved. Why does it take over a year. Nobody has been arrested. Nobody got any tickets. Nothing," said Hamilton.

The case went to the Polk County District Attorney Jack Browning. 

But then COVID-19 hit. The courts were shut down. Now, 13 months later, Browning is finally presenting cases to a grand jury. A second grand jury panel is set to begin hearing cases in December.  

Citizens told me they had concerns about who was on the grand jury. 

The I-Team has confirmed that the foreman of the current grand jury is Rep Trey Kelly's law partner - Ricky Lundy.

"That's a conflict of interest if you ask me," said Keais. 

We tried to talk to Trey Kelly, but he turned and headed back into his office.  

Kelly’s law partner Ricky Lundy would not comment. We called a number we were told belonged to Ryan Dover. No return call.

But District Attorney Jack Browning told me citizens have nothing to worry about. 

He said hypothetically: "If I have a law partner whose associate is being charged with something and that law partner is sitting on my grand jury they would have to be excused from consideration on that case." 

He also says he doesn't play favorites whether you are an elected official or a regular citizen.

"My job is to seek justice and that's what I do without regard to who you are in the community," said Browning.

"I believe my brother will get justice and things will play the way they are supposed to be played," said Keais. 

Representative Kelley sent me an email saying he was saddened by this heartbreaking tragedy and that he has fully cooperated with law enforcement at the scene and during the investigation. Because of grand jury laws, he can not comment about the case.