By Joe Johnson
An Athens man has been formally charged with stealing a pickup truck and crashing it while high on pain pills into Clarke County Jail’s main gate, then three months later driving an SUV the wrong way on the Athens Perimeter while under the influence of cocaine.
Courtney Antonio Burgess, 45, of Sunny Hills Drive was charged with numerous crimes, which stemmed from the separate incidents, in accusations filed Aug. 12 in Clarke County Superior Court by Western Judicial Circuit District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez.,
The jail incident happened on March 21, when Burgess crashed a stolen GMC Sierra into the detention facility's gate, then tried to run from the scene and resisted arrest when caught by a deputy, according to the accusation.
For that incident, an accusation charged Burgess with interference with government property, driving under the influence of Percocet and Roxicodone, driving while license suspended, theft by taking, giving a false name and three counts of obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Three months later, on June 11, Burgess was arrested after he crashed a car while speeding the wrong way on the Athens Perimeter and then reportedly fought with officers as they tried to take him into custody.
According to an Athens-Clarke County police report, Officer Haydn Asinas was traveling west on the perimeter’s outer loop near the Commerce Road exit shortly before midnight when he slowed down upon seeing several vehicles in front of him braking and moving to the right.
Asinas then saw a Honda SUV driving toward him, traveling east in a westbound lane.
The officer noted in the report that after the SUV passed him at a high rate of speed, he activated his cruiser’s emergency lights and siren, then turned around to chase the wayward vehicle.
Asinas reported he had difficulty seeing the SUV because it had no taillights, but he eventually saw it when the vehicle left the roadway, struck a guardrail, and spun around.
As the officer positioned his car to block oncoming traffic from the accident scene, he saw Burgess “vault out of the driver’s window and begin to scream and motion his arms furtively,” Asinas wrote in the report.
Burgess ignored the officer’s repeated commands to step away from the vehicle and to stop reaching inside, the report noted.
Thinking that Burgess might be reaching for a weapon, the officer drew his gun and kept it at a low-ready position at his side while Burgess yelled that his leg was broken and asked for help from motorists who had stopped, according to the police report.
The officer maintained his position until backup arrived, at which time he began dragging Burgess away from the wrecked vehicle. Asinas noted in his report that Burgess resisted and continued trying to reach into his vehicle.
While Asinas fought with the man, they both fell to the ground, at which time the backup officer shot Burgess twice with a Taser gun, to little effect, according to the report.
Another officer then deployed a stream of pepper spray, which was ineffective on Burgess, but struck Asinas in the face, incapacitating the officer.
Asinas further reported that while he was incapacitated, other officers continued to fight with Burgess, eventually taking him into custody.
When searching the SUV, officers reportedly located about 60 oxycodone pills, an open can of beer, two small bags of cocaine, multiple cut straws that are typically used to snort powdered drugs, a small bag of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia.in several major
The report noted that Burgess had recently been involved in several “major” wrecks, including the one at the jail, and he had five outstanding arrest warrants.
Burgess reportedly broke a leg in one of the previous crashes and he reaggravated it when crashing Friday night. Thew report noted he was transported to the hospital to be treated for his injured leg and minor injuries that included scrapes and bruises.
After being medically cleared at the hospital, where he reportedly fought with medical and security staff, Burgess transported to the jail, where he reportedly was found in possession of 20 oxycodone pills.
For that incident, the second accusation filed in court last week charged Burgess with driving under the drugs, reckless driving, failure to maintain lane, driving too fast for conditions, possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, driving on the wrong side of the road, possession of cocaine, possession of prescription drugs outside of the original container, driving while license suspended license, and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
Burgess, who remained incarcerated as of Tuesday morning, is scheduled to be arraigned on both accusations on Sept. 21.