Runaway truck driver in court

By Ed Brock

The man accused of running from police in a stolen crane truck made his first appearance in court Tuesday.

Charles Downey, 34, of Jackson appeared in Clayton County Magistrate Court where he asked for a court-appointed attorney to represent him on the charges of theft of a motor vehicle, fleeing police, reckless driving and various other traffic violations.

Downey was arrested Monday morning after the chase ended when the stolen truck he was driving overturned in the yard of a house on Rex Road following a chase that went through three counties.

Downey's brother-in-law, Ralph Darrell of Forest Park, was at the hearing said he hadn't seen Downey for some time and said he last heard that Downey owned a business on Moreland Avenue. Darrell said he didn't know why Downey would be running from police in a stolen crane truck.

"I don't know what he was thinking," Darrell said.

Darrell said he didn't expect Downey to make the more than $20,000 bond set in his case.

Clayton County Police Spokesman Jeff Turner said the truck was reported stolen around 7:04 a.m. Monday from Southeastern Roof Decks, Inc. on Koppers Road in Conley. An employee of the company, Scott Duffey, was at work when the theft was reported and later, en route to a job site in McDonough, he saw the truck in the parking lot of a gas station on Ga. 42 and Moreland Avenue. He called his supervisor, and then he called 911.

A Clayton County officer drove up behind the truck and tried to stop it at Bouldercrest and Anvil Block roads, Turner said. The chase went through DeKalb and Henry counties but the speed never exceeded 50 mph. Officers used "stop sticks," a device used to puncture the tires of suspect vehicles in a chase, to stop the truck near Rock Baptist Church on Ga. 42.

The stop sticks crippled the truck prior to the crash that ended the chase.