DETROIT – Two Detroit police officers have been charged with willful neglect of duty in connection with a fatal crash last October.
Officials said Stephen Heid, 26, and Ronald Cadez, 28, tried to stop a silver Pontiac Grand Prix traveling at a high speed around 10:18 p.m. on Oct. 9 at Maiden Street and Park Drive.
The officers allegedly pursued the Grand Prix with their overhead lights on before the Grand Prix collided at an intersection. The officers were a block and a half away from the Grand Prix when it crashed, according to officials.
Heid and Cadez are accused of leaving the scene without reporting to the dispatcher that they had engaged in a pursuit. They are also accused of neglecting their duty when they didn't respond to the crash scene.
The driver of the Grand Prix, Jerry Bradford Jr., 19, was taken to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.
Heid and Cadez are expected to be arraigned Monday in 36th District Court.
Officers suspended during investigation
The Detroit Police Department suspended the two officers in October pending an internal investigation and a criminal investigation into the crash.
Detroit police Chief James Craig said the two officers pursued the Grand Prix after they noticed it driving in the east side neighborhood. The officers, who were assigned to the 9th Precinct special operations, began following the vehicle closely to obtain the license plate information, police said.
Bradford allegedly rolled through a stop sign. The Grand Prix increased speed and the officers continued to follow without their emergency lights or sirens, Craig said.
Police said the entire pursuit lasted about 35 seconds.
Pursuit goes against Detroit police policy
The chief said Bradford's vehicle reached speeds of more than 100 mph. The officers' vehicle reached speeds of more than 70 mph. Craig said this was a dangerous pursuit through a residential neighborhood.
"Clearly we had a high-speed pursuit," the chief said.
Craig said the officers did not contact zone dispatch to alert them of a pursuit, but the officers eventually turned on the emergency lights. Craig said the lights were not activated for several blocks.
The Grand Prix gained distance from the officers and Craig said the dashcam video shows what appears to be a collision ahead of the patrol car. Craig said the officers immediately turned off their emergency lights and made a right turn.
About three to five minutes later, a radio call went out about a collision and the officers involved in the chase responded. Craig said the officers' actions were in direct violation of the department's pursuit policies. According to department policy, Detroit police officers are not supposed to initiate pursuits unless there is probable cause to believe the suspect committed a violent felony.
"This was a total disregard for our pursuit policies," Craig said. "This should not have happened."
Dashcam video may show crash
The chief said he has reviewed dashcam video.
"I did review (the video). It seems to me, when I look at the video, I can see that the vehicle which was being chased ... it seemed as if the vehicle lost control or it was involved in a collision ... it was at that time that the officers' overhead lights were turned off and they made a right turn," he said.