Officer Involved In Fatal Crash Still Cashing City Checks

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(Memphis) News Channel 3 is digging deeper into a fatal accident in which a mother and daughter were killed when they were rammed by a police cruiser.

The police director says his officer broke the rules, but the officer remains on the job with pay.

It was a deadly crash that killed 54-year-old Delois Epps and her 13-year-old daughter, Mackala.

Two others in the car were seriously injured.

They had just left a happy family gathering when a Memphis police officer hit them in his squad car.

Witnesses say the officer, 23-year-old Alex Beard was speeding without blue lights and a siren.

Read Past Stories About This Case:

The department confirms he was not on his way to an emergency call.

Five weeks later, police still haven't said who is at fault.

"We haven't done anything in this crash other than seek THP's assistance. That we haven't done in any other crash, even those involving citizens," said Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong.

Mayor A C Wharton called for the Tennessee Highway Patrol to investigate to avoid possible conflicts of interest.

However, after more than a month, there's still no ruling.

THP investigators have requested toxicology results, which typically take six to eight weeks to return.  

Finding out if the officer is criminally liable has nothing to do with Director Armstrong issuing discipline for the officer.

so far,  MPD hasn't even scheduled a hearing with the officer.

Armstrong said, "The officer involved in that particular crash was also injured, so our access to him has been limited at this point."

In the past, officers have been disciplined, even fired while on sick leave and before criminal investigations have been complete.

An example of that is when former MPD officer Norman Benjamin shot himself and blamed someone else.

News Channel 3 asked the Memphis Police Association if any agreement between them and the city would keep the department from questioning Beard.

Officer Mike Williams, MPD President, said, "That's the department. That's not something that we've not said he can't do. They've done it before."

The city and the police association have an agreement that officers must be given a hearing before discipline, and for the first 48 hours after a critical incident, they can't be interviewed.

However after that, we learned they're fair game.

"Stop throwing the memorandum into everything that's going on. It's not us,"  Williams said when asked if the union agreement gets in the way of internal investigations.

Armstrong insists there is no special treatment for the officer involved.

He's asking citizens for patience.

He said, "Give us time. There are some processes that are in place."

He added, "I assure you when all the facts are revealed that we'll take the appropriate necessary action."

The Memphis Police Association says they have nothing against outside agencies investigating MPD officers.

However, they say Police Director Toney Armstrong has done nothing to prove his department can't be trusted to fairly handle these types of cases.

They accuse Mayor Wharton, who recently called for this independent investigation, and others of grand-standing for political gain.