In the wake of a high-speed police chase that left a young woman dead and the driver of the car she was riding in seriously injured, the southeast Georgia city of Metter has paid $500,000 to the young daughter of the deceased.
The city also agreed to change its policy regarding when police can conduct a chase. The fatal pursuit that killed Fenecia Holloway began when a Metter police officer following the minivan she was in ran a stop sign. The officer hit his blue lights, but the driver sped away.
“It’s nice to see your efforts end up having a real effect on how a defendant looks at their responsibilities,” said Jones. “In my experience, it’s rare for a defendant to do anything like that publicly, and we appreciate that the city was ready to acknowledge that responsibility.”
“The Metter Police Department changed their pursuit policy in a way that we think is safer and smarter,” said Butler. “To us, that’s a big deal—we feel like our case made a real difference.”
Metter was represented by Patrick O’Connor, Paul Threlkeld and David “Bobo” Mullins of Savannah’s Oliver Maner.
“Given that there was evidence that Metter’s pursuit policy was appropriate under the law, we were able to reach a compromise settlement that we believe was a fair resolution of the case,” Threlkeld said in an email.
The driver of the wrecked vehicle was represented by Karsten Bicknese of Seacrest Karesh Tate & Bicknese, who did not respond to a request for comment.
According to the lawyers and court filings, the accident occurred the morning of Dec. 5, 2015, when a woman jogging through a downtown park in the Candler County town noticed a Pontiac Aztek parked with the engine running. She called 911 and reported the tag number and continued on her way.
A Metter police officer in the area responded and saw the vehicle leaving the park and followed it, watching as driver Charlie Mincey “winds through a neighborhood and runs one or two stop signs,” Butler said.
Officer Adrian Montealvo turned on his lights and Mincey took off.
Montealvo radioed that Mincey was “passing cars left and right” and hit speeds as high as 110 mph before rolling the car. The crash killed Holloway and seriously injured Mincey, who said he remembered nothing.
Mincey was sentenced to serve fours years in prison and another 11 years on probation after pleading guilty to charges including vehicular homicide, driving under the influence, attempting to elude an officer and reckless driving.
Lionel Seabrooks, the father and guardian of Holloway’s young daughter, sued Metter and Mincey in Candler County Superior Court in 2016.
The case went to mediation late last year, and the trial court approved the structured settlement under which the funds will be disbursed to Holloway’s daughter on Jan. 18.
“To us, this was not a good chase,” said Butler. “There are times when you should chase if you have a violent offender. When you have a guy who’s only crime is running a stop sign, that doesn’t justify passing cars through town at 110 mph.”
According to a local news account, the Metter City Council voted Jan. 14 to adopt new policies regarding when to initiate or continue a police pursuit and the use of “stop spikes” to disable a fleeing car.
In comments to Savannah’s WTOC, Metter Police Chief Robert Shore said the policy “boils down to whether the need to capture somebody is greater than the risk they pose to the general public.”