The Atlanta Police Department has released helicopter video of an accused reckless driver’s arrest in the I-75 corridor as part of a public relations burst touting successes and expressing frustrations with street racing and gun violence.

The video shows “a small glimpse of some of the activity our officers have to deal with,” APD spokesperson Sgt. John Chafee said in a March 1 press release. In a separate release referring to a citywide burst of shootings the previous weekend, Chafee said the police “cannot be arbitrators for every argument” and that “we need individuals to make better choices.”

A car burns rubber in a screenshot from a video that the Atlanta Police Department says was shot from a helicopter Feb. 21 and shows street racers gathering at a Howell Mill Road shopping center.

According to APD, the video was shot around 2 a.m. on Feb. 21 as the air unit watched alleged street racers in the I-75 corridor through Northwest Atlanta and Buckhead, which has become notorious for racing and stunt driving. The segment of video released by APD, showing a large number of cars gathering in a parking lot, was shot at the Howell Mill Square shopping center at 1715 Howell Mill Road. In the video, officers can be heard saying that they had intelligence that the drivers were next headed to the intersection of Mt. Paran Road and Northside Parkway in Buckhead, another notorious gathering spot. 

The video shows cars driving aimlessly around the lot and some drivers parking, while officers can be heard estimating there are around 40 vehicles. One car is then seen driving in circles and burning rubber, leaving large skid marks. The video shows an officer later approaching the car, yanking out the driver and handcuffing him. APD identified the driver as Jalen Cruz, 22, and said he was charged with reckless driving and laying drags.

“This is a small glimpse of some of the activity our officers have to deal with, in addition to responding to emergency calls for help from our communities,” Chafee said in the press release that accompanied the video. “While most of these car enthusiasts appear to be driving safely, we are well aware how quickly these situation[s] can turn dangerous. Once one driver begins acting foolishly, trying to show off their vehicle, others soon follow.”

In an accompanying YouTube video set up like a press conference but with one person asking all the questions, Chafee said that in the previous two weekends, APD’s street racing team made 25 arrests, issued 428 traffic citations and impounded 14 vehicles.

Gun violence remains a citywide concern, with yet another person shot in Buckhead last weekend. In the separate release about violent crime, Chafee said APD will pursue suspects but can’t stop shootings on its own.

“Picking up a gun to solve disagreements is not just a police issue,” he said in part of the statement. “These incidents involve people making poor choices when resolving conflict and it’s practically impossible to police that in real time. We need individuals to make better choices.”

“The Atlanta Police Department has always been committed to reducing crime and keeping our streets safe, but police cannot be arbitrators for every argument,” said another part of the statement. “We need people to understand how important it is to settle arguments by walking away or seeking outside help. No argument is worth destroying lives.”

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.