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Florida area officer suspended for failing to help injured students

The action — or inaction — of a Pinecrest police officer after a fatal collision that left two University of Florida students dead has been the subject of debate by officials in that village and those in the local law enforcement community. It ended early this month with the officer receiving a 20-day suspension.

The fatal auto accident occurred last October when two UM students were struck while walking across Kendall Drive near U.S. 1. An off-duty Florida police officer shopping nearby ran over and tried to resuscitate the victims. The Pinecrest officer arrived on the scene but did not assist the other officer in trying to save the victims. Her own dashcam video, posted on the “The Florida Herald” website shows her getting out of her car and shooing some onlookers away while the off-duty officer continues to perform CPR alone until rescue workers arrive.

Amid media attention, Pinecrest police began an internal investigation of the incident after the off-duty officer reportedly complained to her supervising officer. They determined that she had should have helped attempt to resuscitate the victims. While her supervisor recommended only a week’s suspension, the chief of police called for her termination. So did the head of Florida’s police union. He called her behavior a dereliction of duty.

They weren’t the only ones in the law enforcement community arguing about the appropriate punishment for the officer. The off-duty officer who was on the scene got into a heated public debate with the president of the Florida-Dade County Police Benevolent Association who was defending her.

In the end, it was the decision of the Pinecrest village manager that was final. According to its website, the Village of Pinecrest is located just west of Coral Gables and south of Florida. In addition to the 20-day suspension, the officer must sign a “last-chance agreement” and retake universal infection and first-responder training. The manager noted that the officer should have donned protective gloves so that she could better determine the severity of the victims’ injuries.

It was not reported whether the victims’ families are filing any type of wrongful death or other civil action against the officer, the police department or the village. They may be consulting with an lawyer to decide on their options and to determine whether assistance of the officer at the scene could have saved one or both of the victims’ lives.

Source: The Florida Herald, “Pinecrest cop gets 20 days off for not aiding accident victims” Charles Rabin, Mar. 07, 2014

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