Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Hall sheriff, defendant from 2020 fatal crash

Oct. 7—The widow of a Gainesville man killed in a July 2020 crash after a car chase has filed a lawsuit against the man convicted in the crash, the deputy who pursued him, and Hall County and its sheriff, Gerald Couch, according to court records.

Brian Hayes, 48, was killed in a July 22, 2020 wreck on Bethel Road involving Christopher Wayne Sosebee, of Hall County. Sosebee was convicted in February of felony murder and first-degree vehicular homicide after a jury trial.

He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Sosebee was named in the lawsuit along with Deputy Eric Shaw.

According to the lawsuit, Sosebee was being chased by Shaw when Sosebee lost control of the car and went off the right shoulder of the roadway. Sosebee overcorrected and went across both lanes of traffic.

"Sosebee's vehicle traveled off the left shoulder of the roadway, traveled up an embankment, struck a rock and overturned," according to the lawsuit.

Sosebee hit the front top of Hayes' Chevrolet Silverado, killing Hayes.

Citing the ongoing litigation, the Hall County Sheriff's Office declined to comment.

The Times reached out to Hayes' attorney, Bob Coleman and county attorney Van Stephens for comment, but those requests were not returned.

Before the wreck, authorities were looking for Corey Michael Weaver, of Dahlonega.

Hall County dispatch radioed that there was a warrant for Weaver for a probation violation.

A witness told dispatch that Weaver was seen driving a white Chevrolet Suburban with a ladder rack heading southbound on Cleveland Highway.

During the trial, Sosebee's defense attorney Jake Shapiro said the warrant mentioned a black Kia, while Sosebee was in a black Chevrolet Equinox. The lawsuit alleges Shaw never saw the warrant for Weaver.

Weaver was later apprehended and was sentenced to six years in prison in an unrelated case.

The lawsuit also alleges Shaw was a warrant officer who used a vehicle "not properly equipped for vehicle pursuits" because it didn't have a dash camera and wasn't built for chases.

On July 22, 2020, Shaw spotted Sosebee in a black SUV with a missing grill and began following the car into a cul-de-sac, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Shaw failed to identify the vehicle's plate number or Sosebee and also failed to contact Sosebee on River Run Court despite Sosebee's vehicle being parked.

Shortly thereafter, Sosebee left the River Run Court neighborhood, and Shaw followed.

The lawsuit says Sosebee and Shaw were negligent while accusing the county and Couch of vicarious liability and negligent entrustment. The case is seeking punitive damages, damages for loss of life and income, attorney's fees and court costs, though a specific amount is not mentioned.

The complaint noted that Hayes made between $100,000-$150,000 per year, which was expected to increase over the remainder of his life.