Baltimore County prosecutor declines to charge city officer in fatal accident

Police still investigating Timothy E. Beall's role in pursuit and death of motorcycle rider last summer

March 03, 2011|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

The Baltimore County state's attorney's office will not prosecute a city police officer who crashed into and killed a motorcyclist he had been pursuing, despite an investigator's finding that the officer had been ordered to call off the chase.

In a letter to the state police's crash reconstruction team, which investigated the July 25, 2010, incident, the prosecutor's office said there was not "sufficient evidence to sustain charges of manslaughter by automobile" against the officer, Timothy E. Beall, a 10-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department who had pursued the motorcycle from the city into the county after concluding that it had been racing with a car on Northern Parkway.

The rider, Haines E. Holloway-Lilliston, landed on the police cruiser's hood after the impact and then fell onto the road, according to the state police crash investigator, whose findings were obtained by The Baltimore Sun. But State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said his office had "determined that no charges and no citations were warranted."

Anthony Guglielmi, a spokesman for the city police, said Thursday that Beall's role in the incident remains the subject of a probe by the Baltimore department. He did not address whether Beall had been allowed to return to patrol duties after being stripped of police powers and placed on desk duty in the wake of the crash.

The state police is "cooperating with the Baltimore Police Department in its ongoing administrative review" of the accident, said Gregory M. Shipley, a spokesman for the state police. Its crash reconstruction team at the Golden Ring barracks did not find that Beall had received "repeated calls" to end the high-speed chase, as police indicated at the time.

Shellenberger, the chief prosecutor, said a city dispatcher had told the officer by radio to end the pursuit while the police cruiser and the motorcycle were still northbound on the Jones Falls Expressway shortly after 3 a.m., but there was no evidence that Beall had heard that transmission. Radio communications, the prosecutor said, are sometimes difficult on certain parts of the expressway.

A subsequent radio transmission, from a state police dispatcher, was relayed to Beall once he had entered the northern loop of the Beltway, and the officer agreed to end the chase, Shellenberger said. The dispatcher heard Beall acknowledge the order and turn off his siren, but he apparently continued pursuing the motorcycle, ultimately hitting it on the southbound Dulaney Valley Road ramp.

The report does not make clear how much time or distance elapsed between the second dispatcher's call while the cruiser was on Interstate 695 and the subsequent collision on the ramp.

"The accident was just that — an accident — in which the police car and the motorcycle came into contact," Shellenberger said. Then, discussing the motorcycle rider's death, he said, "The pattern of injuries is consistent with an impact on the left side of his back, landing on top of the hood before falling to the ground."

The prosecutor said there was no indication that either driver in the accident had used alcohol or drugs, but conceded that Beall had not been examined. "There wasn't any reason to test him," Shellenberger said.

The crash investigator, who went to the scene of the accident shortly after it occurred, and while Holloway-Lilliston's body still lay face down on a yellow highway line, wrote in his report that it appeared that the officer's Chevrolet Impala had been traveling at about 40 mph at the moment of collision, some 10 mph faster than the Suzuki GSX 600 motorcycle.

"It was my opinion that the police cruiser made contact with its front left corner to the rear tire of the motorcycle, causing the motorcycle to be pushed/driven out from underneath Mr. Lilliston," the investigator wrote. After the cycle rider had hit the hood and landed in the road, "the police cruiser then drove partially over the motorcycle," causing damage to the car's front and "ripping away the front left plastic wheel well cover," according to the investigator's written records.

Holloway-Lilliston sustained injuries "consistent with sliding on asphalt," the investigator wrote, as well as wounds to his neck and lower back.

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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