Photo by Elaine Rackley
Thomas Paige was in handcuffs as he was taken inside the Clayton County Police Department by deputies, Wednesday.
Police said one of his male friends was arrested for hiding Paige at a Duluth apartment complex.
JONESBORO— The man accused of hitting a Clayton County police officer with a truck and fleeing the scene in Jonesboro has been arrested.
Police say 36-year-old Thomas Paige was taken into custody around 2 p.m. in Duluth. Paige was wanted after hitting officer Michael Hooks with a truck while he was responding to a call about two men burglarizing a shuttered department store on Dec. 12.
Hooks suffered a serious head injury and was hospitalized after the incident.
Police say Paige is charged with aggravated assault, aggravated battery, obstruction of an officer, hit and run, reckless driving and loitering.
“At this time, it is believed that he was the driver,” said Hughes in a press conference held at police headquarters Wednesday.
Paige's accomplice, Jabari Jackson, has already been taken into custody.
“[Paige] was hiding out with someone who was believed to be helping him avoid capture,” Hughes said. “He was located in the apartment complex with another male who was arrested for playing a part in hiding Paige... It is not a good idea to help a person who has committed a crime.”
According to Hughes, officer Hooks was released from the hospital Tuesday and is recovering at his home.
The incident happened when Hooks, along with several other Strategic Methods Against Street Harms (SMASH), officers responded to a burglary in progress call.
Police said Hooks was hit in the old Kmart store parking lot located at 5250 Frontage Road in Forest Park.
“Several other officers gave [Paige] instructions and commands to stop but [Paige] refused to obey the lawful commands,” Clayton County Police Detective A. Melvin said in the arrest warrant. “He instead used his vehicle offensively and struck officer Hooks with that vehicle. He then continued out of the parking lot, where he abandoned the vehicle.”
The officers fired at the suspects, but there was no evidence inside the truck that Paige had been hit, according to police.
Clayton Police Lt. Chris Windley said when Hooks was hit his body flew into the air.
“It is a relief in lieu of everything that has gone on to have him in custody,” Hughes said.
Police said Paige and his passenger, Jabari Akil Jackson, were suspected of stealing metal from behind the K-mart building. Jackson was apprehended at the scene the same day.
“Officers began to arrive and approach the northwest corner of the business, when a black pick-up truck came from the rear of the business striking [Hooks] as he was approaching the corner,” Windley said.
Windley said Paige fled the scene in the truck and wrecked in a ditch. Paige fled on foot and police were joined by the Clayton Sheriff’s office deputies and K-9 unit along with U.S. Marshals in the serach.
Hooks was life-flighted to Atlanta Medical Center.
At the time of the incident, Hooks and his SMASH team were conducting “Operation Safe Holiday.”
Hughes said there was an “extensive” search for Paige.
“The squad, has been working diligently to apprehend Paige and put in some long hours searching Clayton County an surrounding areas,”Hughes said. “I am sure the SMASH team is relieved, as in any incident like this we all suffer,”
As he was being carried into police headquarters Paige claimed his innocence.
“I didn’t do it,” he said.
When asked about his thoughts of officer Hooks, Paige responded, “I hope the officer gets better.”
He said police “stomped his face” causing it to bruise with a visible red patch.
Paige is facing a long list of charges, including hit and run, reckless driving, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, obstructing an officer and loitering, according to the arrest warrant.
He has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1998 which included entering auto and theft by taking charges. In 1999 and in 2011 he was charged with obstruction of an officer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.