A Louisiana police officer who allegedly caused a car crash that killed two high school cheerleaders on New Year's Eve while pursuing a suspect has been charged with manslaughter.
Officer David Cauthron, 42, of the Addis Police Department allegedly ran a red light during the chase and crashed into a vehicle with three young passengers inside “at a very high speed,” according to a statement from the prosecutor's office. Judicial District 18, Tony Clayton.
Cauthron was charged with two counts of negligent homicide. The accident happened across the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge, according to the district attorney's office.
The officer was chasing 24-year-old Tyquel Zanders after Zanders allegedly stole his father's vehicle, authorities said.
The officer then ran a red light on Louisiana Highway 1 and slammed into the car the three teens were in, according to the district attorney's office.
Maggie Dunn, 17, and Caroline Gill, 16, cheerleaders for Brusly High School, were killed in the crash, authorities said. Maggie's brother, Liam Dunn, 20, was also in the car and remained in critical condition at a Lafayette hospital, authorities said.
Clayton said in a statement that his office will “conduct a thorough investigation of the case,” which will include analysis of all footage from the police unit's dash cam and the officer's camera, communication with the officer and interviews. with the witnesses. The case will then go before a grand jury.
“We will follow the facts of the case, but I cannot understand why the officer was driving at such a high speed at a red light,” Clayton said. “Sirens and police vehicles do not give an officer the authority to run a red light. They must slow down or come to a complete stop when human life is in danger. In this case, the evidence appears to show that the officer was grossly negligent and the lives of these youths would not have been lost if he had exercised common sense.”
Clayton continued: “ If it's about endangering human life, stop the damn chase. It's just not worth the risk. This is a tragic case that has impacted many families and an entire community, and ended the lives of young people with a promising future.”