Suspect in hit-and-run that killed Chattanooga police officer released from jail after posting bond

Suspect in hit-and-run that killed Chattanooga police officer released from jail after posting bond

March 6th, 2019 by Rosana Hughes in Breaking News

Janet Hinds listens to testimony during a preliminary hearing before Judge Alex McVeagh at the Hamilton County-Chattanooga Courts Building on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. Judge McVeagh bound charges against Hinds in the Feb. 23 hit-and-run death of Chattanooga Police Officer Nicholas Galinger over to a grand jury.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Updated at 7:13 p.m. on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, with more information.

Janet Hinds, the motorist accused of hitting and killing Chattanooga police officer Nicholas Galinger, posted bond Wednesday afternoon, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

Her release comes a day after a judge agreed to reduce part of her bond, bringing the total down from $300,000 to $153,000.

While Hinds is now out of jail, she still has a lot of court-ordered restrictions.

Judge Alex McVeagh ordered her to be placed on house arrest, said she isn't allowed to drive, has to wear an alcohol monitor and her passport has been revoked.

Hinds was outfitted with a GPS monitor at about 1:30 p.m. after being released from the Silverdale Detention Facility, according to a sheriff's office news release.

On Tuesday, McVeagh agreed to reduce Hinds' bond for vehicular homicide from $250,000 to $100,000 after defense attorney Ben McGowan argued that his client had numerous community ties and wouldn't be an enhanced public safety risk.

McVeagh left the bonds on her other nine charges the same, bringing the total to $153,000. Her other charges are reckless driving, leaving the scene, failure to render aid, failure to report, violation of a traffic control device, speeding, failure to maintain lane and drivers to exercise due care.

The bond reduction may not be permanent. Hamilton County prosecutors announced they plan to seek additional impaired-driving charges against Hinds, and they spent most of Tuesday's roughly four-hour hearing presenting evidence showing the amount of alcohol she drank the evening of the crash on Feb. 23.

Prosecutors will present her case to grand jurors in the near future. No court dates are set.

During Tuesday's hearing, prosecutors argued she had four beers, totaling 76 ounces, and a Lemon Drop vodka shot at a Ringgold, Georgia, restaurant earlier that night.

Hinds arrived at the restaurant at 7:02 p.m. and stayed until shortly after 10:30 p.m.

Over the course of those three-and-a-half hours, prosecutors said, Hinds drank a 22-ounce Blue Moon beer that her son paid for. She finished that drink by 8:13 p.m. and ordered a 22-ounce Michelob Ultra beer that she finished by 8:50 p.m.

Then she got the lemon drop vodka shot at 9:07 p.m., which prosecutors said she consumed quickly, according to security footage.

After that, she ordered two 16-ounce Michelob Ultra beers, one at 9:15 p.m. and one at 10:08 p.m. She was finished by 10:29 p.m. and closed her tab at 10:37 p.m. — 26 minutes before Galinger was struck in the 2900 block of Hamill Road while inspecting an overflowing manhole cover.

Prosecutors said she was driving an estimated 47-52 mph in a 35 mph zone and didn't appear to stop.

Chattanooga police Officer Jarrod Justice, who was at the scene as Galinger's field training officer, began shouting Galinger's name to warn him, but the officer didn't hear and was struck, crashing into the windshield. He was thrown over the car's roof and landed about 160 feet down the road, according to investigators.

McGowan argued that Hamill Road wasn't visible: A road sign over the overflowing manhole had lost its reflective sign, and the officers were dressed in navy blue. He challenged the speeding estimate and said the defense would hire an expert to examine Hinds' car data for a more accurate speed. He also suggested Hinds was purposely driving closer to the center line to avoid rain buildup closer to the guardrail on the right.

As for the alcohol consumption, McGowan pointed to a restaurant server who testified Hinds didn't appear to be behaving any differently. He argued that "it's just as possible she thought she hit a sign and kept going the five to 10 minutes home on a dark, rainy night."

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.

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