I-Team: Cop Out - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

I-Team: Cop Out

Posted: Updated: Feb 13, 2012 09:45 PM
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) -

It's a daily routine for Brett Douglas, 7, and he might never forget what almost happened to him at the hands of a police officer. Douglas' grandmother, Clara Jones says she's still upset that Brett was almost hit while getting off the school bus, especially since it involved someone sworn to protect and serve.

The scene was Tuscaloosa Street in West Baton Rouge Parish, just after school in early November. Jones' grandson was getting ready to step off of his school bus and the bus' stop sign was extended. That's when the driver of a pickup truck, off-duty BRPD officer Jeffrey Coleman, sped up, went around the school bus and hit the bus's red stop sign.

"What kind of emergency did he think he was going that he could have risked a child's life?" asked Jones.

Jones and other witnesses say Coleman kept going, never stopping to check on anyone in the bus, which was full of schoolchildren.

"I thought he was going to turn around and he never did," said bus driver Janet Amond.

Investigators from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office quickly linked the pickup truck to Coleman.  A deputy found Coleman at his friend's house not far from the accident and gave him a ticket, citing Coleman for passing a stopped school bus and hit and run. When the deputy advised Coleman of his rights, Coleman told the deputy to stop and that he knew what his rights were, since he was a Baton Rouge police officer.

Amond says she thought everything had been taken care of until several weeks after the hit and run, Coleman came up to her bus at the same intersection and started to apologize.

"I said, 'What were you thinking?' I said, 'You are a police officer. You should know better than this,' and he said, 'Yes I do, but I was in a hurry.' I said what possibly could have been so much to make you in a hurry to run the stop signs of a school bus?' He gave me a story about a sickness in the family, but after I read the police report, he told the deputy a completely different story," Amond said.

The I-Team obtained that police report where Coleman told investigators: "At that time I just went on ahead around her and like I said I was kind of like in a rush to get where I was going and do what I needed to do, ugh, at my friends house so I just went on ahead and just, went on ahead and just left. I continued to go where I was going on Tuscaloosa."

We also found that it's not his first time Coleman has left the scene of an accident. Dash cam video from inside Coleman's Baton Rouge Police unit taken just four days before the school bus hit and run shows he was on his way to help direct traffic on the Southern University campus.

Coleman hit a truck. He was not responding to an emergency, but kept going. He told investigating officers in a report: "I was just being impatient and trying to go and move some of the crowd that was already on the campus. It was just being impatient and senseless."

Remember that ticket Coleman was issued for passing a stopped school bus and hit and run? The office of West Baton Rouge District Attorney Ricky Ward allowed Coleman to enter an educational program for the charge of passing the school bus. As for the more serious charge of hit and run, Ward "nol-prossed" that charge. It means no action will be taken at this time.

The I-Team called Ward for comment first on his cell phone. His assistant district attorney said she would pass another message along. The I-Team never heard back from Ward. The I-Team also reached out to Coleman through the Baton Rouge Police Union but was told he could not be reached that way. The police department did not respond for comment. The I-Team also called what's reportedly a non-working home phone number for Coleman.

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