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Porterdale officer injured in traffic stop

PORTERDALE — A Porterdale police officer was injured this week as he attempted to apprehend a man with an outstanding warrant during a traffic stop.

Porterdale Police Department Officer Kevin Courchaine was patrolling the area of Hemlock and Main streets Tuesday evening when he pulled over a vehicle for having a broken taillight and a broken tag light.

The driver said he left his identification at home, but provided a birthdate and said his name was Billy Smith, the police report states.

After checking the name and birthdate through the Georgia Crime Information Center, Courchaine learned that the suspect is known to use the name Billy Smith as an alias for Bobby Joe Smith. Bobby Joe Smith and Billy Smith are twins. Furthermore, Bobby Joe Smith was wanted on an active warrant, the report states.

Courchaine reported he approached the driver’s side window and asked Smith to step out of the vehicle.

“The driver yelled, ‘No,’ and I heard the engine accelerate but the vehicle was not in drive,” the officer stated.

Courchaine then tried to open the driver’s door, but Smith allegedly put the vehicle in drive and began to pull away.

“During this time, my wedding ring was hung on the door and the vehicle began to pull my body down the street,” he reported.

Smith then allegedly stopped, at which point Courchaine reached inside the vehicle and grabbed Smith to remove him from the vehicle.

“The driver then accelerated and pulled my body down the street for a short distance before I was able to push off,” Courchaine stated.

At that point, the officer fell and struck the back of his head on the road, causing him to briefly lose consciousness.

The vehicle Smith was driving did not stop.

Courchaine was transported by ambulance to Newton Medical Center, where he received a CT scan and was later cleared to return to work.

Police Chief Geoff Jacobs said that officers learned that Smith might be staying at a house on Laurel Street, so officers were able to track him down hiding in nearby woods behind a bush.

Officers charged Bobby Joe Smith, 38, of 242 Pickett Bridge Road, Covington, with inoperable tag lights, failure to produce a license, aggravated assault, giving false name and date of birth, obstruction of police officer, fleeing or attempting elude police and driving while license suspended or revoked.

Jacobs said it is not standard protocol for an officer to reach into a suspect’s vehicle while the driver is in there; however, Courchaine was likely acting out of instinct.

“Kevin Courchaine is my best officer,” Jacobs said. “He’s a go-getter, very professional, very ethical, and by God, he doesn’t want people to get away from him. He reacted out of a natural instinct.”

Courchaine does not face any disciplinary action.