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Cop Hits Woman's Car At 94 MPH, Killing Her Infant. Police Arrest Woman For Negligent Homicide.

from the this-will-surely-endear-them-to-the-community dept

This is how things go in the US, where law enforcement is treated like a favored religion and everyone who isn’t on the inside is just grist for prosecution mills. Here’s the setup, via Matt Pearce.

A Baton Rouge police officer was arrested Friday on a count of negligent homicide, accused of going 94 mph in a Corvette when he caused an off-duty crash on Airline Highway that killed an infant and injured six others.

The officer, Christopher Manuel, 28, was driving north in a 2007 Chevrolet Corvette shortly after 8 p.m. Oct. 12 on Airline Highway when it struck a Nissan at the intersection at Florline Boulevard that was occupied by four adults and three children.

All of the occupants of the Nissan were taken to the hospital. One of those passengers, a 1-year-old baby, Seyaira Stephens, later died.

The van made a left turn in front of the off-duty officer. Both vehicles had a green light. The speed limit on this road was 50 mph. The speed the officer was traveling was verified by his Corvette’s black box. Here’s the positive news:

Manuel, of 8508 Greenwell Springs Road, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of negligent homicide and speeding, Sgt. L’Jean McKneely, police spokesman, said.

The officer was booked and made bond. So far, so good. Here comes the avalanche of bad news.

Manuel, who has been on paid administrative leave since the accident, will remain on paid leave until after an internal investigation is concluded, McKneely said.

Due process, I suppose, even if it was clear the officer was traveling at nearly twice the posted speed limit. Much of the information needed to conclude the investigation was already in his department’s hands, thanks to the Corvette’s airbag control module, which recorded this data at the time of impact.

But if there’s going to be any justice done, it’s going to be severely delayed.

That investigation will not begin until he recovers from his injuries and is released to work by a doctor.

That’s the sort of thing never extended to lowly civilians. No officer has ever told an injured arrestee to heal up before worrying about answering questions. No law enforcement agency has backburnered an investigation simply because its subject can’t move around on their own yet.

But these investigations took no time to complete. No one at the Baton Rouge PD waited around for victims of the officer’s reckless driving to be fully healed before they began their arrests.

Just weeks after a Baton Rouge police officer was arrested on negligent homicide and accused of causing a crash that injured several people and killed a baby, the child’s mother was also arrested on the same charge because police said she failed to properly secure the baby’s car seat.

Brittany Stephens, 20, was arrested Tuesday after police found that her daughter’s car seat was not secured and the straps were not adjusted correctly for the child’s height, according to her arrest report. Police said the “lack of securing the seat to the vehicle and the loose straps are a contributing factor in the death” of the child and “show gross negligence” on the mother’s part.

Ah, the healing power of criminal charges, brought against someone involved in an accident that was no fault of her own. She (and her daughter) were just passengers in the van. Not to worry, the police issued citations to everyone else in the vehicle the officer hit. But the mother of the infant the cop killed is facing the same charges he is. And she’s not going to be given a chance to rest up before the police move forward with their investigation. The PD has already wrapped this one up and forwarded charges to the DA’s office.

East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday his office has not yet determined whether Stephens or Manuel will face charges, but prosecutors “will review all reports, charges and arrests and make the appropriate decisions based upon facts and law.”

There is nothing right about this, not even technically. The reckless driving performed by the officer should nullify the culpability of the people in the car he hit. While Officer Manuel may have had the right of way, his excessive speed changed the contours of the incident. In a case involving law enforcement officers manufacturing a reason to stop a car, a court pointed out unsafe driving by officers nullifies moving violations performed by other drivers.

[T]he Court finds as a matter of fact and law that Defendant did not fail to yield to the cruiser because the cruiser was not proceeding in a lawful manner. Rather, the cruiser was itself speeding on a dark, rainy night at low visibility further compromised by road glare. By proceeding in such a reckless manner – and in violation of both state and local law – Ofc. Davis forfeited the preferential status afforded a lawful driver under the right-of-way statute.

This isn’t apples-to-apples (the court making this declaration was in Ohio, not Louisiana, where this accident took place) but it’s a good rule of thumb. If someone is driving 44 mph over the speed limit, they’ve effectively forfeited their right-of-way status. A left turn taken in front of a speeding officer should give the officer zero preferential treatment in the eyes of the law. The officer should be 100% culpable for the damage and loss of life. Arresting a mother who lost her infant to an officer’s reckless actions is needlessly cruel and serves zero deterrent purpose. Her daughter can’t be killed again.

The way the Baton Rouge PD is handling this ensures Officer Manuel’s eventual conviction will also have zero deterrent value. It shows officers the PD is willing to arrest victims of their unlawful actions and give them all the time they want — with pay! — to heal up before they’re forced to confront the results of their recklessness. If the DA is smart, the charges against the mother will vanish and the cop will be rung up for his negligent actions.

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Comments on “Cop Hits Woman's Car At 94 MPH, Killing Her Infant. Police Arrest Woman For Negligent Homicide.”

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107 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Nice double Standard!

Gee, I wonder why the public no longer feels trust for the boys and girls in blue. If only the public were held to the same standard as those who supposedly work on our behalf. If a cop can cause an accident and have immunity from prosecution until he feels better, why do his victims not get the same benefits? Oh that is the thin blue line that separates us from the police legally. It is the line of justice that is getting further and further away from us each and every year. Police are civilians other than under specific circumstances yet we treat them as if they were superheroes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

Where the heck did you get the idea that the cop is being let off? Or that the mother didn’t contribute by not fastening down the seat? — From the slanted automatically anti-police re-writer minion, that’s where.

> If only the public were held to the same standard as those who supposedly work on our behalf.

NEGLIGENT HOMICIDE. Same standard, perhaps even higher, as RARELY do auto accidents get any charge even with deaths.

Wichy says:

Re: Re: Re: Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", seri

could not agree with you more. The officer should have been fired and he should be the one facing jail time. AT this point the district attorney who is charging the mother should also be fired because none of them have any freaking common sense let alone a heart.

Alexander (profile) says:

Re: Re: Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

As an Automotive Engineer who has engineered seats in cars I can tell you for certain that none of them in ordinary vehicles are designed to deal with a 94mph collision. Cars disintegrate at that speed.
Those videos you see for car safety, the super slow motion ones, they occur at ~20mph. Yes, that is how much the seats move at 20mph. At 94mph they disintegrate.
Fastening the straps correctly or not would likely not have changed the outcome at those speeds. The officer is clearly grossly negligent and the mother did not contribute in any significant way to the death of her infant. I say that with confidence of someone who’s signature is still on the approvals for seats still carrying children in cars today.
That cop should have his drivers license cancelled for reckless driving for a decade. If he loses his job, then stiff shit. Then talk about trying him for negligent homicide.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

I think you misunderstand the facts. Because there were 8 people in the car, the Mother, who took responsibility in securing the infant, failed to properly secure the child seat.I believe she just wedged it in front consule area. And she also failed to properly ensure the infant was buckled into the seat itself.

Which is why she could be charged and why the defense will argue that it does not matter how fast the defendant was going — 90 MPH, or the speed limit of 50 MPH— the impact on the driver side would always lead to the child’s death since the seat was never strapped down and the child never buckled securely in it. Hence, the child was killed the moment the Mother, whose duty was to secure her child, failed in doing so. At least, that will be their argument. And because of this ambiguity— of whether her negligence contributed or caused the infants death — it will most likely require a jury to decide.

bosyber (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

I will assume you know the facts better than I, but I do not agree that charging the mother serves any good purpose,
and I’d hope a jury would agree.

Charging a mother who’s just lost her 1-year old in an accident, doesn’t serve anything for anyone, but the cop who’d get to say he wasn’t the sole, primary, cause of that accident.

Anonymous Hero says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

Some things the TechDirt story leaves out, but can be found through the links in the TechDirt post:

“Breea Gross, 18, was driving when the crash occurred and was cited for driving without a license, seat belt violation and three counts of child safety restraint violation. Janice Gross, 40, was cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive her vehicle and seat belt violation. Seth Eames, 23, also cited for seat belt violation.”

“Police spokesman Sgt. Don Coppola Jr. released new details about the crash Thursday in response to questions about where exactly the car seat was positioned. He said it was “on top of the center console, wedged between the front passenger seat and the driver’s seat.””

“Coppola clarified Thursday that there were five seats and eight people in the vehicle. Police have said none of them were wearing seat belts.”

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

“cop who’d get to say he wasn’t the sole, primary, cause of that accident”

Except he was the sole cause of the accident. He may not have been the sole cause of the child’s death, but the accident was his fault. It certainly wasn’t the mother’s fault what he crashed into them.

The problem here is that the mother is being charged with the same crime as he was, and being treated notably better than the woman who just lost her child. There’s some dumb behaviour all around, but the ultimate cause of the child’s death was the cop, who wasn’t even on duty at the time.

Anonymous Hero says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

Except he was the sole cause of the accident.

Not sure if that’ll fly in the USA. My Mother was once in her car, parked on the side of the road. Another car swerved in front of her and crashed into the front, driver-side fender. A judge ruled my Mother was at 7% at fault in the accident just by being there. Then again, that was way before I was born, so things may have changed since then.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

“Not sure if that’ll fly in the USA.”

Well, there’s sensible reality and how the legal system treats it. They can be rather different at times, from what I’ve seen.

“A judge ruled my Mother was at 7% at fault in the accident just by being there”

I’d love to see the court records for that lol. Plus, how does that apply to other cases, I wonder. “Yes, your honour, the defendant did rob the bank, but it was 20% their fault for building it there!”

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

Maybe I’m wrong here, but if anyone in the car that was hit is liable for the child not being properly buckled up, shouldn’t it be the driver?

I mean look at the death of that guy in the police van where the driver was driving around recklessly and injured the person (which helped kill them). He was being charged because he didn’t buckle the person in properly, it wasn’t the other officers who were charged for not properly buckling the guy in.

It’s different states those things occurred in yes, but there seems to be a strong logic to the driver having the legal liability, if anyone in the hit car does.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

I believe that the mother was also the driver

Why on earth do you believe that?

As has been discussed here in comments already, “Breea Gross, 18, was driving when the crash occurred.”

Brittany Stephens, 20, the mother of 1-year-old Seyaira Stephens, was a passenger in the 2002 Nissan Xterra when it was involved in the October 12, 2017 accident in Baton Rouge. The mother was a passenger.

Sharur (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

Good catch, AC. I misread the following:

“Breea Gross, 18, was driving when the crash occurred and was cited for driving without a license, seat belt violation and three counts of child safety restraint violation.”

So the driver was also cited . I (erroneously) thought that only the mother had been cited/charged regarding the child safety restraint violation.

James w. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide",

Actually the charges didnt say she failed to fasten the child. It says she failed to properly tighten the seat belt and adjust the straps for the height of the child. How much training does a parent recieve on a child safety seat when they purchase it? What the issue is here is the person driving their vehicle on a road at 94mph in a 50 mph zone. Shouldnt matter if they are an officer or not. Take for example that a person driving in busy traffic rear ends the vehicle in front of them which in turn causes a 4 car pileup. That person is given a ticket for fallowing too close and is responsible for all 4 vehicles regardless of the fact that there are at least 2 other cars that were fallowing too close. The one who caused the accident is solely responsible for all results of the accident.

Regardless of the mother’s ability to properly fasten the child’s seat, had the officer been doing the speed limit there would have been no crash and the child would still be alive. Also with officer being an officer of the law did and knowingly break the law by driving at such speeds. Also the Officer knowingly disregarded public safety while driving at such speed contrary to his understanding of the law.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Nice double Standard! No, "negligent homicide", serious.

As an Automotive Engineer who has engineered seats in cars I can tell you for certain that none of them in ordinary vehicles are designed to deal with a 94mph collision.

The court likely won’t care. I’m also an engineer, and although I’ve never testified in court, friends and associates of mine have. One is a registered P.E. with two PhD’s and is a court-certified expert in Forensic Engineering. One day he gave testimony in court that would have had the effect of showing that a cop was lying. After listening to his testimony, the now clearly upset judge bellowed out "inadmissible!", brought his gavel down and ordered the testimony stricken from the record.

That’s what courts think of experts if their testimony goes against a cop.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Nice double Standard!

When I was in drivers-ed in the 80s, cars were designed to collapse safely at 30 mph. There were instructions about how running into a fixed object at 60mph was more dangerous than two cars going 30mph each running head on (total impact velocity 60mph).

Since then, airbags have become standard and Volvos have become famous for its safety technology, so my data’s old.

Anonymous Coward says:

Since the cop has presumably been trained to a higher standard of driving shouldn’t the penalties be proportionately higher as well. I think a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide could probably be successfully prosecuted and at a minimum the officer should lose his licence to drive and spend jail time. Which would logically result in him being unable to hold a position in law enforcement in the future. If you expect expanded “rights” you also need to live up to expanded responsibilities.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Why?

Why should he not be charged and be subject to more severe penalties than an average person?

D.A. needs support from cops to maintain his power. Cops quit supporting D.A. — then they get a new D.A.

Average people just don’t matter.  D.A. comes down hard on the average the person all day long — still stays in office when election day rolls around and votes get counted.

Way it is.

Sharur (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Why?

Two solutions:

1) The electorate decides that they don’t like this anymore, and votes for a D.A. who will prosecute cops, even if it means reduced conviction rates. Probably won’t happen.

2) The government provides for a special prosecutor who exclusively prosecutes cop cases (or perhaps all government corruption cases). Might happen.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The way it is

Yeah, but we’ve lived for centuries under feudalism and have made great strides in determining we don’t want to live in a class structure where some people get preferential treatment over others. Eventually we’ll bust out the guillotines, or at least throw ourselves onto the bayonets of the armies rather than continue to live under their jackboots.

The reason we still have inequality and prefentialism is because we’ve not yet worked out how to enforce equal treatment, assuring that even the enforcers and officials meet the same justice as everyone else.

The way it is isn’t enough. Does it have to be this way? Is human society doomed to have tiers?

If it’s inevitable, we’ll have to manage the purges whenever unrest over injustice reach threshold. And keep cleaning up the bodies.

And if it’s not inevitable, we need to find a way to change the paradigm before unrest over injustice reaches threshold and nucleates the purges, again, leaving a bunch of bodies to clean up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: not being let off: "negligent homicide", serious charge!

Hey blue balls! This one too much for even you, the premiere badge bunny, to defend?

I’ll field this one just on a venture: YES, it is. You are a simpleton who A) makes a stoopy one-liner trying to “win” something here out of a serious matter, and B) clearly never bother to read: when I believe police are in the right — and Techdirt is simply being anti-police as drug addicts are, I defend the police, YUP. It’s the only rational position to take against obvious anarchists as you likely are. But YOU are the one with automatic and total bias, and are now proved WRONG.

Madd the Sane (profile) says:

Re: Re: charged with "negligent homicide" much more than "reckless"!

But he gets to sit around while he heals while the mom has to go to jail and is charged. The cop hasn’t even been charged yet, probably is still in the hospital or at home.

Considering that everyone in the car was sent to the hospital, their injuries were probably pretty severe.

If the cop wasn’t getting preferential treatment, he would be sitting in jail. Or at least fearing for his job.

Anonymous Coward says:

Society can't be 'consistently cynical'

Society can’t be ‘consistently cynical,’ Justice Thomas tells law students

“I don’t think we can have a society where we are consistently cynical or negative the way that we are,” [U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence] Thomas said. “At some point, if you’re going to have a country, you got to have something to be for.”

Anonymous Coward says:

"car seat was not secured and the straps were not adjusted"

The anti-cop drug addicts evidently read only part.

Two or more can contribute to cause. Accidents usually have multiple causes. Why wouldn’t she be charged TOO? The seat loose is bad, not only greatly reduces protection, but can add weight of the seat to impact forces.

In no way is the cop let off: he’s still facing a criminal charge.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: "car seat was not secured and the straps were not adjusted"

“Accidents usually have multiple causes. “

The women did not do a damn thing to cause the crash. She was an innocent victim, as was her baby.

What’s at question here is whether or not her negligence led to her baby having died (i.e. a properly secured seat would have led to less than lethal injuries). That’s a very different question.

“Why wouldn’t she be charged TOO?”

Basic human compassion. She didn’t cause the crash, and the loss of her child is punishment enough. A prosecution won’t change anything, and the only thing an investigation is going to reveal is which particular major injuries would have been inflicted had she secured the seat properly, which could include death anyway. Nothing good can come out of this except further punishment for a mother, and she will be heavily punished by the investigation and trial even if she’s found innocent.

“In no way is the cop let off: he’s still facing a criminal charge.”

Whether or not he gets prosecuted to the full extent of the law, the fact is that at this moment the victims of the crash are being treated worse than he is. He’s getting a nice little paid break until he recovers before the investigation even begins, while the mother whose baby died as a result of his actions is already facing prosecution. No matter how you wish to spin it, that’s preferential treatment.

This would be bad enough if he was involved in a high speed pursuit at the time of the crash. That he was off duty should mean that he gets treated the same as any other civilian, not still held on a pedestal when he murders people.

united9198 (profile) says:

Sad

Unfortunately the police are very protective of their own and charging the victims gives them more leverage. Letting the victims go will be viewed as a “favor” to them and they will be “grateful”. The cops know that their officer will likely face a lawsuit and charging the victims helps him out. Going 94 mph in a 50 mph speed zone is like pointing a loaded gun at someone and pulling the trigger.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Don't pop that cork just yet

The way the Baton Rouge PD is handling this ensures Officer Manuel’s eventual conviction will also have zero deterrent value.

Just because he’s being charged does not mean that the DA will put more than the absolute minimum to see him convicted, and even if he is given the silk gloves the precinct is treating him(and only him) with the odds of him losing his job even if convicted are zero to none.

Cop speeds, slams into another vehicle, kills a child, and they have the gall to charge the mother with negligent homicide. Yeah, they are not even pretending to give a damn how the public views them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Don't pop that cork just yet

Just because he’s being charged…

According to a March 1, 2018 story in The Advocate, the cop has not yet been charged.

[Officer] Manuel’s attorney Ron Johnson said Thursday he believes his client will be exonerated in court if his case gets that far. Neither Manuel nor [the baby’s mother Brittany] Stephens has been charged since the district attorney’s office has not yet finished reviewing the evidence against them.

Similar information was reported in The Advocate’s Febrary 27, 2018 story, linked in the article above.

Do you have newer information on East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III’s charging decisions in this case?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Don't pop that cork just yet

Ah, nope, misread on my part. The ‘eventual conviction’ had me thinking ‘currently being charged’, and I somehow missed the earlier quote about how neither party are currently being charged.

Of course that leaves open the possibility that it won’t even get that far in his case, which would if anything be even worse. ‘Yeah you were speeding and ending up killing a kid, but it’s not like you did something bad enough to be charged for…’

Here’s hoping that that particular bit of insanity doesn’t come to pass, though a this point, and after seeing how much cops can get away with in other articles, I won’t hold my breath.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t see how this article relates to technology. It seems to me that the author read about this, got angry, and decided to write this article and submit it for publication. Given this rage-inspired article, I question the ability of Techdirt to report on instances in which law enforcement actually uses their power to help others (instead of themselves) in an even handed manner, if the sites’ contributors even care to cover such instances at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I greatly dislike the “You’re not being forced to read it” defense. I haven’t claimed that Techdirt is in any way evil. My concern is with the fact that the article was published on the site in the first place. The article has nothing to do with law enforcement authorities and the legal system utilizing the technology they have at their disposal to abuse their power, or abusing their power in situations and court cases related to technology. Those are things that I do want to read from the contributors to Techdirt, not articles about general police misconduct and abuse.

Matthew Keys was released from prison earlier this month. He was convicted on three counts of conspiracy and criminal hacking, giving the group Anonymous the info necessary to get into and deface a news page. Will the inevitable Techdirt article about his release be a level-headed discussion about the CFAA, the validity of his conviction, and whether his punishment really fit the crime? Who knows? But, given the tone in which this article is written, I’m skeptical.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I haven’t claimed that Techdirt is in any way evil.

No, just implied that they were biased because they wrote an article in a manner that you disagreed with, and don’t waste time writing articles when police do their jobs right.

Cop does his freakin’ job is not noteworthy.

Cop goes above and beyond in job and helps/saves someone can be noteworthy, but whether or not an article will be written up depends on the person writing them and if they feel it’s worth pointing out. If you really want to read articles along those lines I’m sure there’s at least some site out that that will oblige you.

Cop, speeding, crashing into a car, kills infant, and department arrests mother of dead kid and claims she was also at fault(an accusation which, if the comment by Alexander above is accurate is almost certainly wrong) is absolutely noteworthy.

Will the inevitable Techdirt article about his release be a level-headed discussion about the CFAA, the validity of his conviction, and whether his punishment really fit the crime? Who knows? But, given the tone in which this article is written, I’m skeptical.

No need to wonder, read it yourself. The tl;dr version is that case was basically a farce, and he had the book thrown at him at near-supersonic speeds over what amounted to a temporary inconvenience that didn’t even last an hour(and yet which, according to the LA Times, caused one million dollars worth of damages).

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Missed one

Those are things that I do want to read from the contributors to Techdirt, not articles about general police misconduct and abuse.

So don’t read those articles. Problem solved.

Unless/until you own TD and can dictate who writes what it’s up to the individual writers what they cover, and it’s just a wee bit petty to complain that their interests don’t match yours such that they might spend time on things you don’t consider worth it, and/or write articles that might not be immediately obvious as tech related(or might not even be tech related at all except in some minor, insignificant fashion).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“My concern is with the fact that the article was published on the site in the first place.”

Two things – this site regularly covers legal and other issues that have nothing directly to do with technology. That fact that the site has “tech” in its name doesn’t preclude them writing about such issues any more than the fact that a restaurant is called Burger King means that it cannot offer non-burger meal items.

Second, whining about this is pointless. You take more time clicking and commenting to whine that the site isn’t writing what you want it to than it took you to read the article in the first place. Plus, your clicks and activity here mean that the article becomes more popular and thus more such articles are encouraged in the future.

Your complaint is not only pointless and based on a false assumption, it may have the opposite effect to the one you apparently want.

“Those are things that I do want to read from the contributors to Techdirt, not articles about general police misconduct and abuse.”‘

Good for you. However, the writers do not give a shit what you personally want, they will cover the subjects that interest them. If you find than distasteful, you’re better off going to a site that does cover your interests rather than whining that this one isn’t personally catered to you.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t see how this article relates to technology.

Without the Corvette’s airbag control module recording the officer’s speed at the time of impact, they’d have arrested the van driver for causing the accident. Instead they had to find something with which to charge the mother. (And issue citations to everyone else in the vehicle the officer hit.)

I question the ability of Techdirt to report on instances in which law enforcement actually uses their power to help others

Do your local news services report on YOU, every time you act reasonable and don’t get people killed or when you don’t abuse authority?

Scratch that. You sound bitter that they don’t.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

So is this blame-the-victim mentality?

Brittany Stephens is being charged for not anticipating off duty police officers speeding about in their muscle cars.

It does raise the question, if non-officer frat boy was speeding in his Corvette and sideswiped a family car, killing a child, would the police still be charging the family with neglegent homicide?

Somehow I’d doubt it, as it would look really cruel for the justice department to do so. But right now, the police already look bad, given they’re circling the wagons to protect one of their own.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: So is this blame-the-victim mentality?

It does raise the question, if non-officer frat boy was speeding in his Corvette and sideswiped a family car, killing a child, would the police still be charging the family with neglegent homicide?

Well that depends, who are the frat boy’s parents, how rich are they, and do they know the ‘right’ people?

(I wish I could say that was entirely sarcastic…)

Jay says:

The car seat wasn’t strapped in, btw.

My comment has nothing to do with the cop, but other news outlets are reporting the car seat (with child) was not only “not strapped in”, but worse. Apparently the car seat was wedged between the front two seats…setting atop the center console. Furthermore, the car was packed over-full of people, more people than there were seats for them.

May be relevant towards people’s opinions of the mom. IMHO, while she certainly didn’t intend to get hit that day, it may not have been the best way to operate a vehicle.

Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: The car seat wasn’t strapped in, btw.

Yes, the mother made a mistake in improperly placing the seat within the car. The cop still caused the crash that injured and eventually killed the child, though. That child would likely still be alive if not for the actions of the cop. Blaming the mother for not properly securing the car seat is like blaming the people killed at Stoneman Douglas High for not wearing bulletproof clothing that day: It deflects responsibility from the person who caused those deaths to the victims who should have somehow prevented their deaths despite lacking God-like foreknowledge of how they would die.

Nick-B (profile) says:

I may have to be devils advocate here...

But I sort of agree with the DA here. Now now, hold on, let me explain.

As sad as this is for the person, they were committing a crime. Just because the crime was exposed by the commission of another crime (that of the cops) doesn’t get you off the hook. There is a reason for seat belt and child restraint laws so that in cases of accidents in which you are not at fault, the damage is minimized. You can’t just try to get away with contributing to someone’s death by not wearing a seat belt, and telling the cop that YOU hadn’t planned on being in an accident thus needing the seat belt.

Similarly here, she contributed to the death by not restraining a child according to law. I’m not happy that the cop is allowed time to recover, get things settled, THEN be investigated for his actions. But the other half is just as responsible for laws they broke too.

The idea is that if everyone followed laws, there might not be a need for seat belt laws (much less accidents). Seat belt laws are there to help minimize damage dealt when an accident happens, likely (as it was here) as a result of someone speeding.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: I may have to be devils advocate here...

“The idea is that if everyone followed laws, there might not be a need for seat belt laws (much less accidents).”

Well, that idea is simply not true. Accidents happen, and happen sometimes with nobody at fault. Everybody could follow the law to the letter, accidents would still happen and the outcome of those accidents improved by wearing seatbelts.

I have no idea why some Americans are always so put off by the idea of having to wear seatbelts, but the fact is that they would be needed even if you lived in a place where nobody broke traffic laws.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If he had just shot the child, in fear for his life, this case would be closed already.

They should not be allowed to investigate one of their own.
They should not take any different tacts in pursuit of this.
The reckless asshole who killed 1 and injured others gets to rest up and get better before he has to give his story that somehow explains going over the speed limit wasn’t the cause of harm to anyone & it was their fault for not getting the hell out of his way.

Someone needs to directly ask the chief on tape if some moron had been going 44 mph over the posted speed limit & hit & killed an officers family & child would you be giving them time to get healed up & concoct a bullshit story while the other officers pushed charges against the officers for not having their seatbelt on just right.

And they still can’t see why fsck the police is growing as a sentiment in this country, not just from people stopped for driving while black but people unwilling to accept that cops are perfect angels who deserve all the breaks.

mik says:

Well its not that unusual for both parties in an accident to accrue charges, it is most definitely unusual when one party receives clear and obvious preferential treatment from the justice system. The behaviour of the PD and the DA’s is clearly unethical and most definitely amoral.
Situations like this are what breed anti-police sentiment for reasons which are obvious and right. Until the various police forces start acting in a professional and ethical manner, the public cannot help but conclude they are just another self serving marauding band of armed thugs with whom no sane person deals with.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

One can hope there is a special place in hell for the DA and every cop who touched this case.

It isn’t bad enough you have to bury your child because an off duty cop was an idiot, but we’re threatening to charge you for causing the death.

Of course this is based on the “investigation” from the team who let the speeding driver rest up before giving a statement & examining a vehicle that was hit at 94 MPH which I’m not sure most care seats are designed to take when hit from the side, & its not like anyone would have attempted to get to the child and remove her from the seat… nope it’s because these assholes want their buddy to manage to walk because hitting people going 94 didn’t hurt them & kill the child… it was a belt wasn’t tight enough.

The people in the area need to do whatever it takes to remove all of the players in this from office & look into charges against them.

Pilot1 (profile) says:

braking the law while driving

Example : If you were drinking and driving down a straight road with no ltraffic lights and doing the speed limit and someone pulled out in front of you who had no license, speeding and driving reckless. I will guarantee you that that the driver who had been drinking would be charged with murder. You loose the ability to react as quickly while impaired. It’s the same to me if you were driving 94mph.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Techdirt is going full /.

“First, all fans of Pepe the Frog are racist”

…said nobody. Why do you guys feel you have to lie in order to score points here? Is the truth not something you can deal with?

“Now Techdirt totally leaves out the issue that the Mom left the kid to float around the car.”

It’s been mentioned, but it’s totally irrelevant to the points being made.

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