Shane Edward Rogers, who on May 31 led authorities on a high-speed chase from Chattanooga to Whitfield County, was accidentally struck by Catoosa County deputy Jimmy Stockard’s patrol car as he attempted to escape on foot. Rogers was forced into a tree with both legs broken by the force. A camera mounted on the dash of Stockard’s car recorded video of the deputy grappling with the suspect and striking him about 10 times with his hand.
“Shane’s emotionally disturbed,” said Charlie Rogers, the man’s father. “He’s laying there 24-7 looking at the rest of his life, whether he’s going to be able to walk or not. He’s upset, kicking himself, plus asking himself ‘Why did it have to go to this point?’”
Rogers, 30, was believed to be a Chattanooga carjacking suspect, said Catoosa County Sheriff Phil Summers.
During the 20-minute chase, Rogers’ truck reached speeds of 110 mph, authorities said. Rogers said he fled from police because his driver’s license was expired. He faces charges stemming from the incident in Catoosa County for speeding, reckless driving and attempting to elude. Whitfield County authorities charged Rogers with driving under the influence and operating a motor vehicle on a suspended license.
After a copy of the police video was leaked to the media, a nationwide television audience on July 18 saw portions of the police videotape documenting Rogers’ injury and arrest by Stockard on the Fox network’s “The O’Reilly Factor.”
The elder Rogers said his son’s leg injuries are more severe than simply broken bones; damage to the man’s left leg nearly necessitated its amputation, he said.
To repair Rogers’ damaged legs, surgeons at Erlanger Medical Center have performed 12 separate operations, taking muscles from his upper body, including his abdomen, and grafting them onto his legs, which are being held together with steel pins, his father said. One of the muscles was lost during the process, he said.
“It’s affected his upper body drastically to save his legs. He’s got 30 to 40 percent disability in his upper body,” he said. “They’ve taken muscles plumb to the rib cage out of his back; from his hip to up and under his arm, he’s cut."
“Almost two-thirds of the way up his left leg he has no bone it, nothing but the bottom of the calf and the ligaments holding his foot,” he said. “When he came back from surgery I could see the rod and the plate where they attached it to his ankle and two ligaments. It looked like ribbons laying on top of his leg — that’s all that’s in there, all of the meat, the bone and everything is gone.”
Rogers said if the deputy hadn’t tackled his son the way it happened, the surgeons might have been able to salvage more of the bone instead of necessitating bone grafts.
“They could have everything that ever comes out of this for Shane’s physical being again as he was,” Rogers said. “Rodney King — they beat the heck out of him, but he’s out walking around. Shane’s looking at 18 months after this muscle graft takes and it’s not 100 percent yet. It’s going to be a long, slow process.”
The elder Rogers said the Erlanger staff has worked hard to help his son.
“The doctors and nurses at Erlanger have been wonderful,” he said. “Their talents and gifts have given us hope.”
Rogers’ father attributes his religious faith for allowing him to cope with the stress of a bad situation for everyone involved.
“The Lord’s done this for a reason. Maybe Shane can help somebody down the road,” he said. “If I didn’t have faith what would I do? Retaliate violently? Probably, but the Lord’s going to do justice and I have faith in him and justice is going to be served. Right now, I’d rather see my son in jail for five years.”
Rogers family maintains excessive force used, lawsuit coming
Rogers’ father cannot understand why, if Stockard was not sure if the suspect was armed, the deputy did not use more caution in making the arrest.
“You’ve got a pistol and a dog in the car and you’re going to come around that car and never pause and look to see what’s in his (the suspect’s) hands? How much common sense does that take?”
He offers the following analogy of what he perceives as deputy Stockard’s mishandling of the situation with his son:
“If you were standing and there was a pile of weeds in front of you and you thought there was a rattlesnake in those weeds, would you go in there stomping around, with a revolver on your side, or would you pull your revolver and be very cautious?”
Rogers said Stockard and his son attended Ringgold High School together and the officer knew his son’s demeanor is not hostile.
“This kid sat beside him all the way through school,” Rogers said. “He knew Shane’s not a deadly criminal.”
The elder Rogers believes the videotape footage speaks for itself.
He questions the inconsistencies of police accounts of what happened, including the description of the carjacking vehicle authorities were searching for May 31.
“I’m a father, yes, but I’m trying to be unbiased. I’m for the law and I don’t have anything against all of the people in law enforcement,” he said. “A lot of the same questions and answers are totally different. Their (police) logic doesn’t hold for me. It’s got holes in it.”
Conosauga Circuit District Attorney Kermit McManus, whose area includes Whitfield County, originally concluded no wrongdoing on the deputy’s part, but following national airing of the police videotape and the ensuing media coverage, he asked state and federal authorities on July 19 to conduct an independent investigation.
Stockard, who was placed on unpaid suspension during the initial investigation by the Georgia State Patrol and the sheriff’s department, was placed on paid administrative leave July 22 pending results of the independent investigation, Sheriff Summers said.
Summerville attorney Bobby Lee Cook, who is representing Rogers, said within the next week he would file a major civil lawsuit on Rogers’ behalf.
Cook said the videotape’s release to the national media was important in giving this case the attention it deserves.
“The sheriff had swept it under the rug until that tape had been surreptitiously released,” Cook said. “It (the video) seemed to change a lot of opinions internally (at the police department). It sounds like Sheriff Summers could have a mole in his organization.”
The attorney said the sheriff’s departmental investigation into how the tape was taken out of evidence would probably yield recently familiar results.
“I think his investigation into that will be about like his investigation into the incident,” Cook said.
Rogers’ father believes police should abolish chasing suspects.
“I don’t want to see anybody else have to go through this,” he said.
He acknowledges his son has a troubled past that has, on occasion, placed the family at odds. His son is not denying some responsibility for what happened, he said.
“Shane’s record is a public record and he’s not trying to hide anything he’s done. He admitted he was wrong on national TV so we’re not trying to hide anything. Shane’s going to stand for what he’s done wrong. The truth will stand when nothing else does,” Rogers said. “I don’t condone what Shane does — we’ve had some problems between father and son over this issue. We’ve all made some mistakes, but it don’t usually cost us what it’s cost him.