A metro Atlanta attorney said a driveway confrontation with a man who threw a golf ball at his Mercedes-Benz turned deadly after a series of unfortunate, but unavoidable, events.
Video surveillance evidence, however, tells a different story, Sandy Springs police investigators said in case documents released Thursday.
Bryan Keith Schmitt, 48, was indicted Friday on counts of murder, felony murder and aggravated assault in the death of Hamid Jahangard, 60, a real estate investor and father of two.
Jahangard was hit July 30 by Schmitt’s 2011 Mercedes CLS 550, according to police. Paramedics responding to the scene found the man lying at the end of a long driveway shared by four homes in the 300 block of River Valley Road. He died three days later at a hospital.
In multiple interviews with investigators, Schmitt said he was passing the driveway when he saw Jahangard leaning over a green, county-issued trash can. He said Jahangard made a throwing motion with his arm before something, a rock or golf ball, hit the Mercedes.
A golf ball was found near the scene, police said, but there was no damage to the car.
Schmitt said he stopped, made a U-turn and confronted Jahangard. Words were exchanged. As he tried to pull into the driveway, Schmitt said Jahangard threw the trash can in front of his car to stop him.
He swerved, he said, and could not avoid hitting Jahangard in the process. After giving his initial statement, Schmitt was allowed to take his car and drive the two miles back to his Sandy Springs home.
It took investigators nearly two weeks to come to the conclusion that Jahangard’s death was no accident. They say it was road rage.
Storms moved through the northern suburbs the evening of July 30, which made evidence collection difficult. Much of the blood on the driveway had washed away by the time Sandy Springs police Officer J. Head arrived about 6:30 p.m.
The trash can Schmitt allegedly swerved to miss had already been moved to allow a moving truck to leave the shared driveway. The evidence was so compromised that one officer said in his report that crime scene investigators were told to respond the next day to process the scene.
The initial incident report and several supplementary reports were included in the criminal complaint, filed Aug. 13 in Fulton County Superior Court.
Jahangard owned the property at 318 River Valley Road and was at the home to supervise a painting job, his brother Manoucher Jahangard told police. His tenant, Karime Barry, was moving out that day.
Multiple people heard the commotion and came to help, including Barry, but few actually saw Schmitt hit Jahangard. One neighbor, a registered nurse, put a towel to his head to stop the bleeding.
Manoucher Jahangard told police he was on the phone with his brother as he went to flag down the painting crew, minutes before he was hit. He said he heard someone yelling and heard his brother say, “I did not throw anything, get out my face, get out my face.”
Then the line went dead.
Family members did not find Jahangard’s phone among his possessions after he was rushed to the hospital. According to case documents, one of his daughters tracked the cellphone online and found it was at Schmitt’s address.
When police went to the home on Hidden Falls Lane after midnight, Schmitt knew nothing about a cellphone. After calling the number and listening for the ring, officers found it lodged under the windshield wiper.
Investigators went to Schmitt’s home again Aug. 2 to execute a search warrant and seize the Mercedes. At their arrival, Investigator J.T. Williams reported the man seemed irritated. It was a bad time, Schmitt said.
When Williams told him Jahangard was taken off life support the night before, he said Schmitt began to shake.
Investigators did not receive the first video footage of the incident until Aug. 5, days after Jahangard died at WellStar North Fulton Hospital. The impact of the collision caused a massive skull fracture that, in turn, caused swelling on his brain.
A neighbor’s surveillance camera captured part of the collision, but it was partially obscured. The break in the case came Aug. 8 when investigators obtained footage from an air conditioning service van traveling behind Schmitt’s Mercedes that showed the moment of impact.
Schmitt’s statements were not consistent with the video evidence, Williams wrote in his report.“Schmitt’s vehicle plows into the driveway and is not the type of driving for someone to ‘turn around,’ ‘swerve to miss a garbage can,’” he said, referencing Schmitt’s prior claims.
The driveway is 23 feet wide at the bottom, which Williams said was plenty of room for Schmitt to turn around and miss Jahangard completely.
“The speed used to vault the garbage can, lift the front end of his car up and to slam the victim down so hard it causes a massive skull fracture ... is not an accident,” he said.
On Friday, a grand jury charged that Schmitt purposely steered his car into Jahangard. Attempts to reach Schmitt’s attorney, Don Samuels, for comment Friday were unsuccessful.
Schmitt has been jailed in Fulton County without bond since Aug. 12, when he surrendered to authorities. Prior to the indictment, he was next due to appear in court Aug. 27. A date for arraignment has not been set.
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