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Homeless woman faces assault charges after turf war attack over panhandling corner

Written by L. Chase

Published November 14, 2022 @ 8:19 AM ET

Chatham County (September 10, 2022) – Police were called out to a Savannah Shell gas station in reference to an aggravated assault between two homeless women on the southbound 516 ramp to Ogeechee road. The aggressor, identified as Jamie Coakley, reportedly choked the victim for panhandling on what Coakley called “her corner.” Coakley fled the scene and retreated into the wood line where she lives.

Upon speaking with the victim, police learned that Coakley had approached her and threatened her with physical harm if she did not leave the area. Coakley then attacked the victim and forced her to the ground, where she placed her hand around her neck and choked her for approximately one minute.

Police examined the victim’s injuries, and she did not display symptoms of defecating or urinating herself or petechiae of the eyes, a common symptom of busted blood vessels after forceful strangulation or choking. The victim stated she did not lose consciousness. However, officers did observe a red mark on the victim’s neck consistent with hands being placed around her neck. She also had a minor laceration to her right elbow. The victim refused EMS treatment.

The victim also stated that Coakley had tried to take her backpack, which acts as her purse, and holds her cell phone. The victim said she believed that Coakley would have killed her had it not been for a concerned citizen who said they would call the police, causing Coakley to retreat into the woods.

After speaking with the victim, police searched for Coakley and found her lying face down within the wood line of the incident, and she was immediately detained. Police noted in their report that Coakley was approximately 5’6 and 300 pounds, and the victim weighed in at less than half of that, at 120 pounds, and stands 5’5.

A witness to the incident, who happened to be the victim’s sister-in-law, was standing on the opposite side of the on-ramp and said all she could see was what appeared to be the two slapping each other. The witness advised she had a broken ankle, so she was moving slowly at the time.

Coakley was arrested, charged with aggravated assault and battery, and transported to the Chatham County Detention Center.

Officer’s Narrative:
[Please note: The following is a direct transcription from the official initial incident report. The Georgia Gazette does not fix any spelling or grammatical errors that may exist. Any changes or redactions made by our staff are placed inside brackets. Some errors may exist. All subjects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. The topics discussed may be sensitive to some readers. Discretion is advised.]

On 9/10/22 at 1609 hours, while on uniform patrol in a marked vehicle, I was dispatched to a fight report at 3618 Ogeechee Rd. (Shell Gas Station.) The call was later changed to a aggravated assault as my BWC #518W was activated.

Upon arriving I spoke with the Victim, [VICTIM #1], who advised an arrestee named “Jamie” (later identified as Jamie Coakley) approached her on the shoulder (grassy area) on the south bound 516 on-ramp onto Ogeechee Rd. where she was pan-handling. Ms. [VICTIM #1] advised Ms. Coakley told her to leave her corner, as if implying she had control of the corner for pan-handling purposes. Ms. [VICTIM #1] advised Ms. Coakley began threatening by stating she was going inflict physical harm, as Ms. [VICTIM #1] advised she did not make contact with the arrestee during this verbal encounter.

At this time Ms. Coakley attacked Ms. [VICTIM #1] and forced her onto the ground, while Coakley maintained control on top of her. Ms. [VICTIM #1] advised Ms. Coakley placed her hand around her neck while pinning her to the ground for approximately one minute, but did not lose consciousness. Ms. [VICTIM #1] did not display symptoms of petechiae or urinating/defecating, I observed a red mark on Ms. [VICTIM #1]’s neck consistent with a hand being placed around her neck. Ms. [VICTIM #1] also had a small laceration to her right elbow as she refused EMS treatment.

At the same time Ms. [VICTIM #1] advised Ms. Coakley attempted to forcibly take her book bag, which acts as her purse, and cell phone. Ms. [VICTIM #1] advised she believed Ms. Coakley was going to kill her if it were not for a citizen who stated they were going to call police. At which time Ms. Coakley stopped and retreated back into the wood line, where she resides.

A coordinated effort with multiple police officers yielded an arrest of Ms. Coakley who was in the prone position within the wood line west of the initial incident. I did not speak with Ms. Coakley as she was immediately detained, via double locked handcuffs. Ms. Coakley provided a statement to the responding detectives. It should be noted that [VICTIM #1] is approximately 5’5 120 lbs and Coakley is approximately 5’6 300 lbs.

I spoke to Witness #1, [WITNESS #1], who advised she was positioned on the opposite side of the incident. Ms. [WITNESS #1] advised she could only see both persons involved ([VICTIM #1] and Coakley) “slapping” each other. Ms. [WITNESS #1] also advised she has a broken ankle and was moving very slow during the incident. It should also be noted that Ms. [WITNESS #1] is Ms. Coakley’s sister-in-law.

Det. Thomas and Gause responded to this incident as it was determined the incident was a patrol arrest. After conducting our investigation, Ms. Coakley was charged with Aggravated Assualt (16-5-21) and Battery (16-5-23.1) and was transported to CCDC by Ofc. Huynh.

[End of Narrative]