A Shelby County grand jury indicted Bartlett patrol officer Lucas Hines April 28 on two felony counts of vehicular homicide. An investigation found that his actions led to the deaths of two people on Oct. 12.
He was speeding his patrol car through the intersection of Stage Road and Bartlett Boulevard when he slammed into a vehicle driven by Danny Floyd, 63, with passenger Michelle Sloyan, 49. Both victims were ejected and died.
Hines was on administrative leave with pay until the indictment came through, but the Bartlett Police Department suspended him without pay on Monday.
If convicted, Hines could serve three to six years in prison for Sloyan’s and Floyd’s deaths.
An investigation by a special unit of the Ten-nessee Highway Patrol revealed the officer didn’t have his blue lights or siren on at the time of impact, and he was driving faster than the 40 mph speed limit.
Investigators also determined that he was pursuing a reckless driver despite the fact his shift supervisor had told him to disregard the pursuit.
“This officer was driving recklessly with reckless indifference to all of us,” said Memphis attorney Jeffrey S. Rosenblum, who represents the Sloyan family.
The officer suffered minor injuries and was temporarily on medical leave after the crash. No one in either vehicle was wearing a seatbelt.
Vehicular homicide is the reckless killing of another by the operation of an automobile as the result of conduct creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury to a person.
Hines is currently out on $25,000 bond after his indictment. The case is being handled by Billy Bond, chief prosecutor of the district attorney’s DUI Prosecution Task Force, which also handles vehicular homicides. Alcohol was not involved in the crash.
Rosenblum praised the police department’s choice to have an independent and experienced agency like the THP’s Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) handle the investigation. He said he and the family were more bothered by the decision to keep Hines on the payroll in the meantime.
“It’s disturbing to this family that the city would keep this officer on its payroll, waiting for Shelby County to do something,” Rosenblum said.
Instead, he thought the city should have done its own preliminary administrative investigation to determine whether the office should or shouldn’t remain on the payroll. He questioned whether Bartlett residents are pleased for their tax dollars to be used in this manner.
He anticipates that the family will file a wrongful death case against Hines. Rosenblum said he wants to review the number of officer-involved accidents to determine whether there is a pattern of failing to train and enforce safety standards and if the police department takes a cavalier attitude toward officers’ reckless behavior or if it’s addressed swiftly and thoroughly.
Not paying Hines in the interim would have sent that message loud and clear, Rosenblum said.
The Bartlett mayor and police chief were not available at press time to provide responses to Rosenblum’s statements.
Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.