0

Man pleads guilty in cop hit-and-run case

By Kathy Jefcoats

kjefcoats@news-daily.com

JONESBORO — A co-defendant in a December hit-and-run involving a Clayton County police officer pleaded guilty to his charges Monday morning.

Jabari Akil Jackson and Thomas Areeco Paige were arrested last year in the hit-and-run crash that seriously injured Officer Michael Hooks. Police said the men were stealing metal behind a vacant building on Frontage Road in Forest Park when officers, including Hooks, arrived.

photo

Jabari Jackson

Jackson, 33, pleaded guilty Monday to commercial burglary and obstruction of an officer. He was sentenced to 12 months to serve and five years on probation, to be served concurrently. The state dropped charges of loitering and possession of tools used for the commission of a crime.

Jury selection was supposed to start Monday for Paige's trial but his attorney, Rolf Jones, asked for a continuance. His new trial week starts Sept. 23 in Chief Judge Deborah Benefield's courtroom.

Paige faces the more serious charges, including multiple counts of aggravated assault, aggravated battery, serious injury by vehicle and reckless driving. He is being held in the Clayton County Jail.

photo

Thomas Paige

Paige, 37, of Hampton has a long felony record, having served four different sentences in Georgia state prisons during 2001-2007. His prior convictions include theft by receiving stolen property, motor vehicle theft, theft, peeping tom, obstruction of an officer and entering an auto in Cobb and Fulton counties.

He was most recently paroled in 2009.

He faces more than 150 years in prison if convicted on all 14 counts in the indictment, said Clayton County District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson.

Police said the men were behind a vacant building stealing metal when officers responded to a burglary in process. Paige was driving a pick-up truck and tried to flee the scene but hit Hooks and wrecked, said police. Officers said he fled on foot and was arrested about a week later in Gwinnett County.

Jackson was arrested at the scene.

Hooks had recently returned to work after being treated for cancer when police said Paige hit him with his truck. Hooks attended the first Clayton County Board of Commissioners meeting of 2013 in January in a wheelchair. He's since had surgery and participated in the 12th Annual Lifesaving Awards ceremony sponsored in March by Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services.

Wearing braces on both legs, Hooks walked to the front during the ceremony to a standing ovation.