By: Amy Long Email
By: Amy Long Email

UPDATED 4/7/2011 11:05pm by Amy Long
Tallahassee, FL- A small garden blooms where Tallahassee Police Officer Michael Saunders used to parked his patrol car outside of his home.

Saunders left home for his routine morning jog back on December 12, 2009, but never made it back. That's because he was hit and left to die near Orange Avenue and Paul Dirac Drive.

Ervin Hargrett, OFC Saunders neighbor says he remembers where he was when he caught wind of the tragedy. "It was unbelievable when we got a call from his wife, Martha saying that Mike was killed this morning. Definitely unbelievable that a person could just hit another human being like that and just keep going."

During a pretrial hearing on Thursday, 4/7 Guy Jones, the man behind the wheel of the van that struck Saunders, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter.

OFC Derek Friend with Tallahassee Police Department says, "I think it's a step in the right direction to acknowledge his responsibility and it will just have to go forward from there."

Saunders' widow did not wish to comment on camera, but said she's happy Jones pleaded guilty so she would not have to relive the hardship during a trial.

Meantime, those who knew him best remember the man they lost. "He was a very good person and it was a very tremendous loss to this community." says Hargrett.

OFC Friend added, "He was a great guy, always quick with a smile and one of those people who really are the core of the Tallahassee Police Department."

Guy Jones will be sentenced on June 8th at 3pm.

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Updated 6:45 p.m. 12-15

Bowden's Carpet Cleaning advertises 24-hour emergency service. But the company's lawyer says 22-year-old Guy Jones was not supposed to be driving one of the company vans in the wee hours of the morning last Saturday.

That's when Tallahassee Police Officer Michael Saunders was hit and killed near Paul Dirac and Orange Avenue.

One of Jones' neighbors said, "Whatever or whoever had been hit, they were hurt. You could definitely tell there was an accident in that van."

The neighbor says she spotted Jones' company work van that night in the Willow Bend Apartment Complex where they live, and put two and two together when she noticed the Chevy was seemingly hidden and banged up.

She said, "The front end, it looked like the bumper was missing and it was just really bad. That was fishy. It was very severely damaged. You could tell that something large was hit."

The arrest report says the Chevrolet "bow tie" emblem, a right passenger side mirror, front blinker, and other vehicle pieces were left at the scene.

TPD SGT Eric Childs has worked with Saunders since 1992. He said, "Mike was the person I could lean on at times. He would tell me, hey, Eric, calm down, everything's going to be alright. So, he was definitely a good friend to me. I'm going to miss him greatly."

An officer reported overhearing a phone conversation Jones had with someone in an interrogation room.

The report says the person asked, "Did you kill somebody" and Jones replied "Hu-huh."

The person then said "Was it an accident?" and "Were you drinking?" to which Jones indicated the affirmative to both.

The arrest report says on the next day, Jones told his boss at Bowden's Carpet Cleaning that he'd hit a deer.

Bowden felt the van's extensive damage was inconsistent with a deer hit; so the report says Bowden called his attorney, who in turn called police.

The owners of Bowden's Carpet Cleaning, Marlon and Angela Bowden released a statement regarding Officer Saunders: "The sudden death of Officer Saunders is a tragedy for the Tallahassee community, and our hearts and prayers go out to his family and friends. Although the suspect in custody, Mr. Guy Jones, is a former employee of Bowden Carpet Cleaning, he did not have authorization to use the company vehicle after hours. Mr. Jones broke our protocol and policies before committing this senseless act. Bowden Carpet Cleaning has always been dedicated to honesty and integrity, and we will continue to serve the Tallahassee Community as we have for the last 12 years. We trust that our customers and neighbors will not allow this tragic event to cloud our good name and reputation."

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Updated 6:25 p.m. 12-14

Funeral Services for OFC Mike Saunders have been set.
Visitation services will be held Wednesday night at the Strong and Jones funeral home at 551 West Carolina Street from six to eight.
The funeral will be Thursday at the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church at 224 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd at noon.

"We're walking around under a cloud but we're going to get through this. Our hopes, wishes and prayers go out to his wife and his family," said OFC Danny Jeter with the Tallahassee Police Department.

Officer Mike Saunders worked with the Tallahassee Police Department for 26-years.

A flag at half-staff and a flickering candle memorial are reminders that he won't be reporting for duty anymore.

Saunders died Saturday morning after he was hit by a van while he was out on a morning walk.

Now 22-year old Guy Jones faces charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of an accident involving a fatality.

But folks at TPD are just trying to get through a workweek without one of their veteran officers.

"They're mourning the loss of Mike but also celebrating his life. We hear stories about Mike and the job that he did and the smile and the grin that was always on his face. Those are some things we are going to remember and really cherish," added Jeter.

Guy Jones was released from the Leon County Jail on Sunday afternoon on 35-thousand dollars bond.

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Updated 7:35a.m 12-14

The man accused of hitting an off-duty police officer with his van - and leaving him for dead has been released on bail.

22-year-old Guy Jones appeared before a Leon County Judge Sunday morning on charges of vehicular homicide, failing to stop at the scene of an accident involving death, and driving with a suspended license.

Jones is accused of hitting officer Michael Saunders of the Tallahassee Police Department on Paul Dirac Drive Saturday morning and then leaving.

Officer Saunders was out for a walk at the time. He died at the scene.

The bond for Jones was set at more than 35-thousand dollars.
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Update 12/12/2009 6:00pm

A white male by the name of Guy Jones turned himself in to the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office this afternoon. He is being charged with leaving the scene of an accident with injuries or death and vehicular homicide. There could be more charges pending.

We will provide more information as it becomes available.
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The following is a press release form TPD:

Updated 12:47 p.m. 12/12/09
The victim of the fatal hit-and-run crash reported earlier this morning has been identified as Tallahassee police officer Michael P. Saunders. It is believed that Officer Saunders was on a brisk walk on Paul Dirac Drive before reporting for duty when a vehicle struck him. Officer Michael Saunders joined the Police Department January 1983.

Chief Jones said, “We are deeply saddened by the loss of a respected, veteran Tallahassee police officer. Our prayers are with Officer Saunders’ family and friends. In addition to assisting his family during this time of loss, every effort is being made to locate the vehicle and apprehend the person or persons responsible for the death of Officer Saunders.”

The Tallahassee Police Department is asking that anyone who may have witnessed the crash or has any information that will help solve this crime to please contact the department at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS (8477). You could be eligible for a cash reward.

Suspect Vehicle:

Large white Chevrolet, possibly a truck, van or SUV, with extensive front-end damage

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Saturday, December 12 at approximately 4:48 a.m. the Tallahassee Police Department responded to Paul Dirac Drive, north of West Orange Avenue, in reference to a passerby who discovered an adult male lying motionless in the roadway.

Upon arrival, officers determined the male was deceased and officers discovered crash debris strewn in the area.

Tallahassee Police Department Traffic Homicide Investigators are currently working the case as a fatal hit-and-run traffic crash involving a pedestrian.

The identity of the deceased male is being withheld until proper identification and next of kin notification can be made.

Suspect Vehicle:

Large white Chevrolet, possibly a truck or SUV, with extensive front end damage.

Anyone with information about this crime is asked to contact the Tallahassee Police Department at (850) 891-4200 or Crime Stoppers at (850) 574-TIPS (8477). You could be eligible for a cash reward.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ellis in Tallahassee on Apr 10, 2011 at 08:21 PM
    And some of you are so full of crap. It wouldn't make any difference what color his skin was or what color the driver's skin was, it's always gonna come down to that fact that most black people are rasist and will make everything that happens about color. There will be a day when everyone will be the same color, it's happening right now, bi-racial kids are becoming the norm. So cut the whinning and grow up.
  • by Really?? Location: tallahassee on Apr 9, 2011 at 07:34 PM
    To Amazed: Shame on YOU! May God bless your cold little heart! Think before you speak...Killer? Really?.....i HOPE nothing like this ever happens to you or any of your loved ones!! GOD BLESS YOU!!!! And to Anonymous....How can you say this was no accident?? Were you the one driving that vehicle that night...if not think b4 you speak as well!!!!!
  • by Ya Ya Location: Tallahassee on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:50 AM
    It is not illegal to hit in run in Wakulla County unless something has changed. Drinking in a County owned vehicle is also ok. Since the accident occurred in Leon county the defense should be " I made a Mistake" Ask our Mayor.
  • by Ashamed on Apr 9, 2011 at 10:45 AM
    A precedent was recently set by the Sheriff in Wakulla County. By his actions it is okay to hit and run after drinking.
  • by Rebecca Location: Tallahassee on Apr 9, 2011 at 06:38 AM
    To TIR and Max Powers. I hope and pray that nothing like this ever happens to you as a victim, as a family member of a victim, as a driver or as a member of the driver's family. This type of accident hurts everyone and effects lives forever. To say such nasty things about Guy Jones without knowing him is horrible and serves no purpose other than to spew hate. Judge not and use your words for good instead of hurting others with them.
  • by Amazed Location: Tallahassee on Apr 9, 2011 at 03:38 AM
    Tally girl...the best thing Guy could have done was stop and HELP. Instead he left someone on the side of the road to die. I am sure you would feel differently if it was your father. OH, and by the way, if Guy would have stopped it would have been an accident, but he left so now he is a killer.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 9, 2011 at 03:14 AM
    WTH?? Think about guy?!! This women lost her husband! To a drunk driver no less....have you ever been to a police funeral? It is the most heartbreaking thing you will ever see!! not only did this family loose someone BUT TPD lost a brother.My own husband is a cop and I have seen this happen, I have seen hundreds of grown men in uniform cry for their lost brother...maybe he should be made to watch LE funerals...its sad that a young man will loose his freedom but that is what happens when you CHOOSE the drink and drive.I am 35 yrs old and have NEVER EVER took a drink and drove a car and I never will.This was NOT a accident, he was drinking.What does it matter WHERE this man was jogging? He was staying in shape for his job , you know, the one where he serves and protects people like you!
  • by Just curious... Location: Tallahassee on Apr 8, 2011 at 06:45 PM
    I'm just curious, but What was an officer doing in the middle of a curvy road(no sidewalks)with it raining at whatever time of morning it was anyway??? Something is fishy about that....and was he wearing reflectors or anything?...If not,An officer should know better than that! That's A accident waiting to happen! Also What shows guy had been drinking....any evidence? All of this is a tragic accident and my heart and prayers go out to BOTH sides of the families. I think that People need to stop being so harsh about Guy tho....This could of happened to ANYONE!!
  • by Tally girl Location: Tally on Apr 8, 2011 at 06:04 PM
    Wow....I'm sorry but THIS article makes Guy look terrible. Guy is a very caring and passionate person. It was an accident, you people need to learn not to judge so quick and quit talking trash about Guy. He did the best thing he could do by taking responsibility for his actions. You should think on both sides of this. Yes the family is hurt by all of this and my prayers are with them, but think about Guy! Poor thing....He has to wake up every morning reliving this nightmare, then go to bed and wake up to it all over again each day that passes!!! My thoughts and prayers are with you Guy. Keep your head up, you have a lot of people praying for you!!!
  • by TIR on Apr 8, 2011 at 04:58 PM
    Hopefully this THUG will get the 40 years. He does not deserve to be roaming the earth. He is a heartless inhuman animal.
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