A 25-year-old police officer and 29-year-old driver are both dead after a suspect attempted to escape a speeding stop in Georgia, according to investigators.
Joe Burson was described as a “model officer” on Thursday after he died during a traffic stop in Holly Springs, about 35 miles north of Atlanta.
“At some point during the traffic stop, one suspect … dragged a Holly Springs police officer down Hickory road. During that traffic stop that officer was able to fire shots at the suspect,” GBI spokeswoman Nelly Miles said at an afternoon press conference.
Both Mr Burson and the driver, identified as Ansy Dolce, died in the incident. While Mr Burson fired shots during the incident, investigators did not specify if it was the gunfire or vehicle collision that killed Mr Dolce.
They also did not confirm whether the gunshots were fired before, or while, Mr Burson was dragged by the car.
Holly Springs Police Chief Tommy Keheley said it was a simple traffic stop and could have been avoided. Mr Burson had only been with the police department – his first job – for about 18 months, he said.
“He was a model officer. If you had the ability to clone police officers, you would’ve wanted your officer to be Joe Burson,” Mr Keheley said.
“He has been an asset to this department, he will be greatly missed.”
Georgia Bureau of Investigation assistant director, John Melvin, called his fellow Police Academy graduate a “fundamentally good man”.
“He gave his best. He cared about his classmates. He loved his family,” Mr Melvin said.
Chief Keheley delivered the news to Mr Burson’s wife, saying it was among the worst days of his career.
“I have had to do this before, in the past, this is no different, this is just as tragic as anything I’ve experienced before,” he said.