MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Criminal charges could be on the way for Alex Beard, the Memphis police officer involved in a deadly car crash. Police say he violated protocol while behind the wheel. That violation may have very well cost lives.
According to the Memphis Police Department's vehicle operation policy, if an officer violates traffic laws in a way that's negligent, causing an accident, he will be at fault just as much, if not more than, the driver who did not yield to the emergency vehicle.
Police are allowed to disregard the speed limit and traffic signs when responding to emergencies so long as they have their lights and sirens on. Even then, the driver is not relieved from "the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons."
Investigators say Beard hit a car containing a family of four at Walnut Road and E H Crump Blvd on Sunday, August 26. Two people were killed, 54-year-old Delores Epps and 13-year-old Mackala Ross. The driver, 48-year-old Michael Ross, remains in critical condition. Another passenger was treated and released.
Police recently confessed what witnesses say they knew all along. Officer Beard did not have his lights or sirens on.
"All I heard, I was on the porch and my niece, all we heard was a loud boom. I didn't hear no sirens, no nothing," said Odessa Stevenson shortly after the accident. "We ran up the street, the officer jumped out the vehicle, was limping and I looked over, a girl was slumped over."
On Wednesday, Mayor A C Wharton stated, "There have been an unacceptable number of incidents involving city vehicles, particularly police vehicles."
While Mayor Wharton promised a quick end to the investigation, Memphis police said Friday there is no timetable to complete it.
If the officer is found to be at fault it also opens up the city to a lawsuit.
The District Attorney's office says it is too early determine what charges beard could possibly face, but a source within the police department says charges are likely.