In Maryland, the State’s Attorney for Prince George’s County says that police officer Mario Chavez will not be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter in the Maryland car accident death of Brian Gray. The 20-year-old Bowie resident died in December 2007 when his vehicle was struck by the police car driven by Chavez, who did receive a speeding ticket for his role in the auto crash.
A police probe placed responsibility for the traffic collision on both Chavez and Gray. Their investigation concluded that Chavez was speeding, driving 50mph in a 20mph area zone, and that Gray, who was coming out of an intersection, pulled out in front of the police officer’s vehicle.
During his deposition, Chavez, 30, said he consumed several drinks the night before the deadly car accident and spent the night at a friend’s house. He was returning home to get ready for work when the auto crash happened early the next morning. Following the fatal motor vehicle collision, Gray’s family sued Prince George’s County and Chavez for wrongful death. They are seeking $2 million.
According to county state’s attorney Glenn F. Ivey, a person cannot be prosecuted for vehicular manslaughter just for speeding in Maryland and that another factor, such as drunk driving, purposely ignoring others’ safety, or speed racing, has to be present for there to be the possibility of gross negligence. Ivey says that although Chavez drank the night before, there was no evidence that he was intoxicated on the morning of the accident.
Ivey also reiterated that the fact that Chavez is a police officer is not the reason that he won’t be prosecuted. He expressed hope that the Maryland General Assembly would lower the state’s high standards for prosecution. New legislation, proposed by Del. Luiz R.S. Simmons, would allow for a misdemeanor charge to be filed if a driver causes an auto crash while engaged in actions that pose a “substantial risk” to the safety of others.
In October, another Prince George’s County police officer was acquitted following a 120mph pursuit of a motorcyclist. The high-speed chase left two people dead and 15 others injured. Meantime, Chavez continues to work as a Prince George’s County police officer.
Officer involved in fatal accident will not be prosecuted, Gazette.net, December 30, 2008
Md. Will Not Indict Officer in Car Crash, Washington Post, December 13, 2008
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