Police allege driver was high when he drove into CNN Center in downtown Atlanta
Because of poles and other barriers, it's difficult to see how driver made it into building
Gerlmy Javon Todd, 22, is charged with DUI, marijuana possession, reckless driving
It’s Friday the 13th, and a full moon is in the offing.
Those might be dandy reasons to explain why a man drove his soft-top Mercedes coupe into CNN Center in downtown Atlanta early Friday, but police have a better reason: The driver was allegedly high.
There were no injuries, Atlanta police spokesman John Chafee said in an e-mail. The driver, Gerlmy Javon Todd, 22, was traveling near the intersection where CNN’s world headquarters is located “when he left the roadway and struck the building” at about 4:15 a.m. ET, Chafee said.
It’s tough to discern how. There are barricade poles and large, stone planters at the corner of the intersection. Marietta Street, which CNN Center faces, is lined with lightposts and shin-high metal barriers protecting the trees and plants along the sidewalk. Those barriers are unscathed.
Even if Todd had driven down the sidewalk from the opposite side of the building, the sidewalk bottlenecks right before CNN Center. It’s about 5½-feet wide at that point, so it’s difficult to imagine how a car could have traversed it.
Pressed on these details, Atlanta police said it had little information, not even the direction in which the car was traveling.
“While I don’t have additional info at the moment I feel it is safe to say that the car was on the road at some point and then left it,” Chafee wrote in a later e-mail.
CNN’s corporate security office declined to comment, and CNN’s corporate communications office referred a reporter to Atlanta police, saying it had no information except that the driver traveled down the sidewalk before crashing into the building. Corporate security later said it was working on a statement.
Chafee said police noticed the odor of marijuana in the car. Todd had marijuana in his possession and told police he had been smoking while driving, Chafee said. Todd also told police he had been driving all night and had fallen asleep at the wheel.
Photographs from local media outlets showed a woman, described as an occupant of the vehicle, collecting boxes and other items, including a duffel bag, several shoeboxes and a flat-screen television, from the cabin and trunk of the moderately damaged car before it was towed away. The Benz has a Florida license plate.
A reporter for CNN affiliate WGCL-TV in Atlanta asked the woman to provide details, to which she replied, “Give me some money, I will,” before insulting the reporter, turning her back to her and saying, “Get out of my face.”
The driver was taken into custody and is charged with driving under the influence “less safe,” reckless driving and possession of marijuana, Chafee said.
A city jail official said Friday morning that Todd was being held at the Grady Memorial Hospital detention facility, though Chafee said in an e-mail both Todd and his passenger declined medical treatment. It was not immediately clear if Todd had retained a lawyer.
By early afternoon, the area was cordoned off with yellow tape. A white wall stood in the gap between two revolving doors, where the roughly 10-foot-high, plate-glass window had been situated.