Youth on dirt bike is injured after crashing into parked car Policeman says he tried to halt teen

witnesses claim officer is at fault

March 23, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

A 16-year-old Meade Village youth was in stable condition at North Arundel Hospital on Friday after he drove a dirt bike into a parked car during an encounter with a police officer trying to stop him.

Residents who witnessed the incident shortly before 3 p.m. said a county police officer stood in the street and tried to grab the boy's shirt and the handlebars of the bike as the teen-ager drove by, then pushed him, causing him to crash into a Pontiac Grand Prix. The car's hood was raised, and the teen-ager landed in the engine compartment.

"If the hood hadn't been up on the car, he would have gone through the windshield," said Rashida Batten, a nursing assistant who saw the crash.

But the officer, Sgt. Brian Heger, said that while he stepped into the street to get the boy to stop, he did not reach out to grab the rider, Fabian Gray. Heger works in the police Youth Activities Program office in Meade Village, a public housing community in Severn.

He said the teen-ager rode back and forth on Meade Village Circle that afternoon on the yellow dirt bike at speeds up to 60 mph.

"I got out with the intent of 'Hey, don't do that anymore,' " Heger said Friday, still at the scene. "He kind of sped up at me, and I tried to jump out of the way, and I may have hit him or something." Any contact with the boy was unintentional, Heger said. Another officer interrupted and directed Heger to report to the Western District police station.

It is illegal to ride a dirt bike on a public road unless it is registered as a motor vehicle, according to Sgt. Scott Pittaway of the traffic safety division. A license plate was not visible on the bike as investigators had it loaded onto a truck.

The teen-ager bought the used dirt bike about two weeks ago, said Mack Sharps, 24, a cousin of Gray who saw the accident. Sharps did not know, however, whether Gray had it registered.

Dozens of people milled about outside on the mild spring afternoon, and some called the incident another episode in repeated problems with white officers patrolling a predominantly black community. Heger is white; Gray is black.

"It was a traffic accident," not a racial incident, said Officer Sean Grant.

Pub Date: 3/22/97

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