A Dekalb County police officer is dead after smashing his police cruiser into a tree, just weeks after taking to the streets for the first time.
Ivorie Klusmann, 31, was responding to a call around 2:30 a.m. when he lost control of his car driving along DeKalb Medical Parkway near Lithonia.
Police said Gregory Harvey Jr. sparked the incident by taking off from Klusmann during a traffic stop. Harvey later turned himself in at his Stone Mountain home. He faces multiple charges including murder, reckless driving and driving a stolen vehicle. It was reported stolen out of Henry County.
Police didn't get into the details of the crash, but tire marks on the road show Klusmann hit the curb on the right side of DeKalb Medical Parkway then skidded across, flew off the road and hit a tree.
"It was a horrific crash. The car was pretty much wrapped around the tree," said Mekka Parish with the DeKalb Police Department.
Police said Klusmann originally tried to pull Harvey over for a routine traffic stop. When Harvey took off, Klusmann began to pursue him, but stopped to follow protocol.
A second DeKalb County officer spotted the suspect later. Klusmann was notified and began to respond. Klusmann was killed during his second response.
By the time the sun rose the car had already been removed, but the damage was everywhere.
"It was hit hard. The bark on the tree is gone. About 10' up the tree it's gone," said Tommy Williams, who lives in the neighborhood.
"When I first saw the damage I thought somebody had to be killed in that," said Ralph Williams, who also lives nearby.
And he was right.
It forced Chief Cedric Alexander with the DeKalb County Police Department to perform one of the worst duties of all.
"I had to notify the family early this morning, and that was very difficult for the family when they came to the door and they saw me there. We all had a real tough time with that," said Alexander.
And because it's an officer, the community is struggling too.
"I feel sorry for the family and I wish them all the best. The guy died doing what he loved - his job," said Ralph Williams.
But as tragic as it is, residents said it could have been a lot worse.
"I'm so happy it was the tree. The house is just 20 ft away. It could have been the house and harmed somebody else. If it had to happen I thank God it was the tree and not the house said Tommy Williams.
But while the community and the department struggle with the loss, they're not forgetting about the suspect.
"We are going to pursue this right to the end. We won't stop. We want to put some closure on the end of it," said Alexander.
Copyright 2013 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Thursday, March 27 2014 8:56 PM EDT2014-03-28 00:56:41 GMT
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