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Newly released bodycam footage shows a Houston police officer driving one-handed at speeds in excess of 80 mph in a 40 and killing a pedestrian.
Officer Orlando Hernandez of the Houston Police Department was responding to an alleged carjacking call on December 4 with his partner, Officer Anthony Aranda, in the vehicle with him. In the bodycam footage the police cruiser can be seen hitting speeds between 80 and 100 miles per hour while driving with one hand, something that is against protocol.
According to a crash report filed by HPD, the road was wet from a recent rain storm.
Hernandez approached an intersection that had stopped vehicles and jerked his steering wheel to avoid hitting the other cars. The cruiser avoided the vehicles in the street, jumped a sidewalk, and hit 62-year-old Michael Wayne Jackson, who was walking to his barber.
Officer still on active duty
After hitting Jackson the cruiser continued into a nearby parking lot where it finally slammed into a dumpster bin.
Prosecutors have yet to present the case to a grand jury, Harris County district attorney’s office spokesperson Dane Schiller said Monday.
Houston police have not released any other findings from their investigation, including any telemetry data from the cruiser’s computer regarding the actual speed and if/when Hernandez applied the brakes. Crash investigators with HPD’s vehicular crimes division noted in a crash report that Hernandez was “traveling at an unsafe speed” and “performed a faulty evasive action.”
“I need HFD here,” Hernandez radioed after approaching Jackson’s lifeless body. “I just got wrecked out, uh, Scott and Reed. One male patient is going to be knocked unconscious, not breathing, uh, bleeding from the head.”
The video ends with officers giving Jackson chest compressions.
Family calls on HPD to pay for funeral costs
Tamica Burns, Jackson’s stepdaughter, said she believes HPD should have to pay for Jackson’s funeral costs. Expenses associated with burying him have compounded her mother’s grief, she said.
“She’s grieving. She’s stressing,” Burns said. “Now we have to come up with money to bury him, and it’s not fair. It’s not right.”
Days after the crash, Jackson’s brother speculated that the officer behind the wheel was not skilled enough to handle the high speeds.
“It looks like to me, maybe the guys couldn’t drive that well,” Timothy Jackson said. Both officers in the cruiser were 25 years old and had been on the force less than five years. “They just weren’t ready. Their skill level in pursuits maybe wasn’t that good, because they came out of the street onto the sidewalk. They put anybody that’s on the sidewalk in danger.”
Houston police have yet to close the case, and it’s unclear if prosecutors will pursue charges against the officers. Both officers are currently listed as active duty.