ATHENS — A star football player for the University of Georgia allegedly led a police officer on a high-speed chase through the Athens campus on Jan. 10, hours after the team won its second consecutive national football championship.
Five days later, police officers questioned the same player, linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson, minutes after a fatal car crash involving two other players and two members of the team’s recruiting staff. Police are investigating whether racing was involved in the Jan. 15 crash, according to records reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Dumas-Johnson, 21, was arrested Wednesday on misdemeanor charges of street racing and reckless driving related to the Jan. 10 incident. He turned himself in at the Athens-Clarke County jail and was released 41 minutes later. Authorities allowed him to go free without posting the $4,000 bond normally required on the charges, jail records show.
The charges have no connection to the Jan. 15 crash, in which offensive lineman Devin Willock, 20, and recruiting analyst Chandler LeCroy, 24, died. Another recruiting staff member, Tory Bowles, 26, was seriously injured. Offensive lineman Warren McClendon, 21, was treated at a hospital and released.
The incident leading to Dumas-Johnson’s arrest began about 8 p.m. Jan. 10, shortly after the football team had returned to Athens from Los Angeles, where it had defeated Texas Christian to win the College Football Playoff championship. Dumas-Johnson, a leader of Georgia’s highly regarded defensive unit who started every game at middle linebacker last season, was credited with four tackles in the title game.
An officer with the university’s police force, Adam Hubbard, observed two Dodge Chargers stopped at an intersection on UGA’s East Campus. When the light turned green, Hubbard wrote in a report, both cars spun their tires and began racing along College Station Road, an area that is home to dorms, classroom buildings and a campus visitors’ center.
Hubbard pursued the cars, he wrote, but could not catch up to them, even as he accelerated to about 75 mph.
One of the Chargers turned onto the Outer 10 Loop, an expressway at the edge of the Georgia campus, Hubbard wrote. But when the officer approached, the car accelerated again.
“Once it became clear that the vehicle was purposefully fleeing, I turned off my vehicle’s emergency lights, reduced my speed and discontinued my attempt to stop the vehicle,” Hubbard wrote.
Moments later, Hubbard spotted what he believed to be one of the cars on an expressway exit ramp. He did not stop the car but recorded its license tag number. Further investigation connected the car to Dumas-Johnson, the officer wrote. He did not elaborate in the report.
Hubbard’s initial report also listed a charge of fleeing from or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer. That offense did not appear on arrest warrants for Dumas-Johnson, however.
Police obtained arrest warrants Tuesday, six weeks after the incident. Hubbard notified Dumas-Johnson about the warrants and told him to report to the jail. Dumas-Johnson did not respond to a message left by the AJC with a family member on Thursday.
Dumas-Johnson was one of several Georgia players who celebrated their national championship early the morning of Jan. 15, hours after a parade and a celebration at Sanford Stadium.
Surveillance video obtained by the Journal-Constitution shows several players and football staff members leaving a downtown Athens strip club about 2:30 a.m. Several cars, including one that matches the description of Dumas-Johnson’s Dodge Charger and the Ford Expedition driven by LeCroy, left the area less than 10 minutes before the fatal crash. Police reports said they were headed to a Waffle House near the crash site.
About one minute after police arrived at the crash scene, an officer asked a radio dispatcher to check the ownership of Dumas-Johnson’s Dodge Charger, police dispatch logs show.
A police supervisor questioned Dumas-Johnson more than an hour later, the dispatch logs indicate. The nature of that interview is not clear from publicly available records. But documents reviewed by the Journal-Constitution show the police were investigating whether the cars headed to the Waffle House were racing.
The impact of the crash broke the Expedition’s speedometer at 83 mph, records show — slightly more than twice the speed limit.
— Data specialist Jennifer Peebles contributed to this story.