Lawsuit claims powerful Polk County officials covered up deadly hit-and-run accident

The father of a man who was struck and killed in a bicycle accident has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against State Rep. Trey Kelley, Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome, and the driver of the car, Ryan Dover.

"He didn't die from just an unfortunate accident he was killed," says Min Koo, the attorney for Manfred Keais. "And not a single person has been held accountable for his death. They can't do stuff like this, kill somebody. And think they are above the law." 

Earlier, the FOX 5 I-Team examined the case of Eric Keais, who was hit by a car while riding his bike in Cedartown. 

The driver of the car was Ryan Dover, seen here on The Justice for Eric Keais Facebook page. He left the scene of the accident, according to a police report. Dover told police he "might have hit a deer but he wasn't sure."   

Eric Keais' brother didn't believe the story 

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

Dover didn't call 911. He called a friend, powerful state Rep. Trey Kelley. Representative Kelley didn't call 911. Instead, he later told police he and Dover searched the scene and found a "bicycle in a ditch" but no body.

He still didn't call 911. He called Cedartown Police Chief Jamie Newsome, at his home.

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

In a police report, Chief Newsome said he got the call 46 minutes after the accident. He too didn't call 911. He sent an officer to check the scene. Eric Keais was found. Still alive. He died several hours later at the hospital.  

A Polk County grand jury later indicted Ryan Dover on hit-and-run and reckless conduct and Trey Kelley on one misdemeanor charge of reckless conduct.

"Mr. Kelley's conduct goes beyond just a simple reckless conduct. He didn't endanger somebody he didn't cause a little bit of harm, he killed someone. His actions killed someone," said Koo.

Now attorney Min Koo has filed a federal wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Eric Keais' father against all three men. In her suit, she argues that the failure of a police chief, a state representative, and a citizen to call 911 caused the death of Eric Keais.

"Doing the just the most basic human thing they could have done, just call 911 just to get Eric's help could have saved this family from a lifetime of grief, agony, and pain," said Koo. 

Koo's lawsuit points out despite the deadly accident, police never gave Ryan Dover "a breathalyzer test, blood test, or subjected to any field sobriety test"  That night, Dover was not charged with a crime.  

Representative Kelley's attorney, Lester Tate wrote us to say they "completely dispute the allegations made against Rep. Kelley" and that Kelley "had no knowledge or legal duty that required him to do anything more than what he did."  

The suit claims Dover, Chief Newsom, and Representative Kelley "conspired to cover up the hit-and-run collision"

Why would they do that?

"When people don't do the most basic thing to help out another person that they know is injured, there is a reason for that. They want to hide something, they want to gain something," said Koo. 

We reached out to Ryan Dover for comment but he didn’t get back to us.  

The City of Cedartown attorney, Carey Pilgrim, wrote us to say the city and Chief Newsome was  aware of the case recently filed by the Keais family.  Since the litigation is pending, they would not comment on it, other than to say:  "we deny the material allegations in the complaint and will be defending against the same."