Officer killed in collision went through red light

Siren, lights were on

police say other driver might be charged

March 11, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Police investigating Wednesday's car accident that claimed the life of a Baltimore police officer have determined that the officer went through a red light, a department spokesman said yesterday.

But authorities said they are considering charging the 20-year-old driver of the Dodge Neon involved in the crash with some type of traffic offense, possibly failing to yield to an emergency vehicle or a more serious charge related to the fatality.

Maj. Michael Bass, the spokesman, said a decision will be made in a week to 10 days, after results of the investigation are presented to the city state's attorney's office and prosecutors review the case.

Police officials were busy yesterday planning Monday's funeral for Officer Jamie A. Roussey, 22, who was killed four months after graduating from the police academy while trying to reach three fellow officers chasing a drug suspect.

The officer's family -- which includes a father, brother, cousin and uncle who are on the city force -- have not made any public comments. Relatives would not comment when reached at their home yesterday. The funeral is at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church in Catonsville.

Flags in the city have been ordered to fly at half-staff and a black mourning cloth has been draped over the entrance to the Western District police station, where Roussey had been assigned.

100th to die on duty

He was the 100th Baltimore police officer to die in the line of duty since the department was formed in 1870, the second in two years to be killed in a car accident. Officer Harold A. Carey died in 1998 when his cruiser collided with another squad car on North Howard Street.

The accident that claimed Roussey's life occurred about 5: 45 p.m. The officer was traveling north on Fulton Avenue in a marked Jeep Cherokee when he was broadsided by the Neon, whose driver was westbound on Fayette Street.

Roussey was speeding to help three colleagues -- Officers Robert Peregoy, Sean Miller and Jeff Archamault -- who were chasing a man suspected of holding marijuana several blocks away at Payson and Penrose streets.

Bass said yesterday that investigators have confirmed accounts from several witnesses that the driver of the Neon had the green light and that Roussey went through a red light. The spokesman said the officer's emergency lights and siren were on.

Officers are required to come to a full stop at every stop sign and red light, even when responding to emergency calls, to make sure the intersection is clear, before they proceed. Bass said investigators have not determined whether that was done in this case.

The law also requires that civilian drivers yield to emergency vehicles. The spokesman would not comment on what specific charges are being considered, but he did say: "Obviously, because it is a fatal accident, there may be charges addressing that aspect."

The driver of the Neon has been identified as Calvin A. Thompson Jr., 20, of the 4100 block of Mountwood Road in West Baltimore. Police said that Roland J. Scott, 28, of the 100 block of Palormo Ave. in West Baltimore was in the front passenger seat.

Handgun, drug charges filed

Both were treated for minor injuries and then charged with gun and drug possession; police said they found a 9 mm Glock handgun and a pipe with suspected marijuana residue in the car.

Thompson and Scott have been released on $5,000 bail each and have a court hearing set for next month. Neither could be reached for comment yesterday.

Thompson's father, Calvin A. Thompson Sr., 49, said he "feel[s] for the family of the officer. It's a tragedy. A man lost his life." He said he has not talked to his son about the crash.

Warren A. Brown, a criminal defense attorney, said prosecutors would have to show that the driver of the Neon "had a reckless disregard for human life" to bring an auto manslaughter case -- which he said would be difficult given the circumstances of this case.

"It's a tragedy, but nothing criminal," he said.

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