THE INVESTIGATORS: Eyewitness says BRPD officer involved in deadly crash was driving 'crazy'
BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A man who says he witnessed the deadly crash involving a Baton Rouge police unit and a pedestrian says the officer was driving "crazy" at the time.
The June 27 crash shut down Florida Blvd. for several hours and left 42-year-old Phillip Clark of Meridian dead. The officer in the unmarked vehicle was not en route to a call at the time, according to a spokesman for BRPD.
"When he hit him, the man was maybe 15, 20 ft in the air, spinning," recalled a man who only identified himself as "James." He says he witnessed the crash.
James claims he was driving west on Florida Blvd. approaching the intersection with Acadian Thwy. when the police car came up behind him at a high rate of speed.
"He was approaching me from the back pretty quick, and he was in my lane at first, but when he got real close to me, he swiveled into the left lane," said James.
At the same time, James says an ambulance was traveling north on Acadian, right in front of the police car.
"He was going too fast to think about what he was going to do. He couldn't stop and so it looked like he went even faster to try to beat the ambulance because there was no way he was going to stop for the ambulance," said James.
On the other side of the intersection, the unmarked police cruiser hit the pedestrian. The BRPD traffic homicide division is currently investigating the crash, according to department spokesman, Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr.
"We're going to disclose all their information, we're not going to leave no stone unturned," said McKneely.
However, James says when he spoke to police on the scene, they appeared uninterested in hearing about what he saw. He claimed an officer also told him not to relay what he witnessed to reporters.
"He said, 'The best thing you can do is not talk to them, not talk to the media. You should just go home,'" said James.
McKneely says that that is not something BRPD does or encourages. "I can't say that it did or did not happen, but if it did happen, there's a course of action that he can take," McKneely said in response. "Anybody has the ability to go talk to anyone at that particular time."
McKneely says officers spoke to three eyewitnesses at the scene. BRPD also has dash cam footage of the incident. McKneely says they cannot release that video until the investigation is complete and he would not say if it is different from what James described.
BRPD currently has an agreement with Louisiana State Police to investigate officer involved shootings. After this incident, McKneely says BRPD is also considering expanding that agreement to include deadly officer involved traffic accidents as well.
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