The Florida prosecutors made a difficult but correct decision this week in agreeing not to charge Ernie Daley, Jr., 19, for the deaths of two officers who were killed by a pursuing fellow officer.
The tragedy occurred when Daley fled from police and and Palm Beach County Deputies Donta Manuel, 33, and Jonathan Wallace, 23, were in the road retrieving a device intended to puncture the tires of Daley’s fleeing car. Daley had run over the device but did not stop. Another officer then pursued him and struck the two officers as they were trying to retrieve the device, sometimes called dragon’s teeth.
It is possible to charge individuals with the deaths of both officers and their own criminal partners (as well as victims) in criminal acts. However, this can radically escalate a minor crime of fleeing police into a murder charge. There is no question that but for Daley’s actions, these officers would be alive. However, that causal link contains many superceding intervening acts like negligence in not retracting the device from the side of the road and, for the other officer, in pursuing a suspect without due care.
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