Baxley, GA — Police work has long been a cat and mouse game, but for one Georgia man, his decision to run from the police on his motorcycle quickly turned into a fight for his life. It all began when police attempted to pull 23-year-old Mathew Jared Schantz over for driving without a license plate.
The chase ended at a roadblock on Hwy. 341 when then Appling Co. Sheriff “Mr. Benny” Deloach (below) shot Schantz in the face with 12-gauge buckshot.
In an exclusive interview, Schantz told The Free Thought Project that while he now regrets running from police, when the encounter occurred on June 17, 2016, he had just bought the bike and “didn’t want to be hassled” because he did not have a license plate.
He took off quickly to get away from pursuing officers, and thought he had lost them—but they quickly tailed him. Schantz said he lost them again, but the chase continued for quite some time. In a written statement he told TFTP:
“It was roughly 30 miles but I wasn’t actively being pursued the whole time. I lightly ran for about 2 miles then tried to slow down (thinking they quit chasing me) but took off when I noticed they were still chasing. Lost them. Then came up on a road block about 25 miles down the road.”
High-speed police chases can be deadly, especially for motorcyclists. Giving chase can be equally deadly for police officers and innocent bystanders as well. The number one killer of police officers while on duty is car accidents—not shootings, as many believe. According to the Times-Herald:
“In the State of Georgia, approximately 585 people have been killed in high-speed chases since 1979, the report indicated. Of that total, 342 were fleeing drivers, 239 were non-violators and four were law enforcement employees.”
Schantz said he knew police officers in Appling County were not supposed to give chase, as he said it is against their official police policy. But, nevertheless, they followed him, even though he was only a suspect in the victim-less crime of driving without a license plate.
Even though Schantz said he believed the officers were not supposed to give chase, they did, and when they finally got him to stop at a roadblock, Sheriff Deloach shot him in the face with buckshot.
“They violated their own no-chase policy by pursuing me. They set up a road block. When I stopped, they shot me in the face with a shotgun. (12 gauge buckshot, not a beanbag).”
Schantz said after they realized the Sheriff may have committed a possible attempted murder, all of the deputies erased their dash camera footage. He said the proof is found in the Georgia State Bureau of Investigations’ own report. He also doubts the deputies’ contention that each and every one of their cameras only malfunctioned on the video which would have shown the sheriff shooting an unarmed man in the face.
“Per the GBI report, 7 cars had running dash cams. EVERY single one stated their cams ‘malfunctioned.’ The truck that would have captured the shooting on video was supposed to have 8 segments of video but only 7 were recovered. They have before the shooting and after. They deleted the video of the shooting.”
The young man, who admits he made a mistake when he ran, says the FBI has now taken over the investigation after the GBI predictably failed to recommend charges be filed against Sheriff Deloach. He also says police stole his iPhone and his Apple Watch.
“They kept my Apple Watch & iPhone out of fear that I was recording. (they said they lost my property).”
Schantz contends the police were criminal in their behavior—first in attempting to murder him, and second in stealing evidence related to the crime. He is now suing. When asked how difficult his recovery was he said:
“Pretty rough to be honest. I developed severe post traumatic stress disorder. My jaw had to be reconstructed. (I had) 3 teeth implanted. Plus I still have 3 pellets in me.”
The young man said he was unarmed, had no warrants for his arrest, and believes Sheriff Deloach abused his badge when he attempted to kill him for fleeing from the officers. Adding insult to serious injuries, Schantz was charged with felony eluding, posted $17,000 bail, and is due in court on December 5.
After getting shot in the face, Schantz crashed his motorcycle and was airlifted to a hospital. He said his recovery has been difficult but now he has recovered enough to hold his assailant accountable. Unfortunately, the sheriff won’t see any repercussions unless the FBI sees the cover-up.
“I certainly realize I shouldn’t have ran. It was stupid. My problem is them shooting me for running away. Then covering it up by lying and deleting videos.”
Sheriff Benny left office in January after serving Baxley for 20 years—the maximum number of years under Georgia state law that a sheriff can hold the position. It is highly unlikely such a popular sheriff will ever see a day behind bars for shooting Schantz in the face, but at least the record will show—if the young man’s allegations are proven true in a court of law—he nearly killed a kid for running from Johnny Law.
Jack Burns is an educator, journalist, investigative reporter, and advocate of natural medicine
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