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Former Police Officer Pleads Guilty to Charges Stemming from Fatal Car Accident

Former police officer caused collision while driving in excess of 100 miles per hour.

On March 5, 2012, a police officer from Varnell, Georgia caused a fatal motor vehicle accident which took the life of 70 year old Leon Thurman, a newspaper carrier for the Daily Citizen. The accident occurred when the police officer, who was driving in excess of 100 miles per hour, crashed into Thurman’s Dodge Neon while he was delivering papers.

Police officer pled guilty to first degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving.

This week, the former police officer, who resigned during the investigation into to motor vehicle accident, pled guilty to first degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving before Judge Cindy Morris at the Whitfield County Courthouse. The police officer’s sentence includes a lifetime ban on working in law enforcement, 10 years of probation, a $2,500 fine, and 300 hours of community service.

According to prosecutors, an internal investigation by the law enforcement agency for which the police officer worked revealed that the officer was driving 104 miles per hour seconds before the motor vehicle accident occurred. Based on information obtained through the black box located in the former police officer’s vehicle, the police officer slammed on his brakes before the collision took place. However, he was unable to stop in time and struck the victim’s car while it was crossing Cleveland Highway in order to continue delivering papers at a nearby shopping center. The police officer was not on an emergency call when the motor vehicle accident occurred.

The police officer reportedly knew the victim and his family before the accident. In statements made before the Court, the former officer explained that he spoke to the victim about their shared faith almost every night. The former police officer also acknowledged responsibility for the accident and the family’s loss. Members of the victim’s family expressed that they were in agreement with the sentence, and were glad it was over. The family preferred a plea agreement to a lengthy trial.

Family of the victim also brought a wrongful death suit against the City of Varnell.

In addition to the criminal charges, a wrongful death suit was brought against the City of Varnell by the victim’s wife and daughter. The victim’s family initially requested $750,000 in damages from the City of Varnell. The case ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount, which the family described as substantial.

If you or a loved one has been injured, or if your loved one has been killed as a result of a police officer or other government employee’s negligence, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney will be able to review the facts of your case and to determine whether you have a case against another party for your losses. If so, an attorney will be able to provide you with the representation you deserve.