In New York, former state trooper Brian Beardsley is now clear of any criminal charges following the announcement yesterday of Hamilton County District Attorney James Curry that the grand jury had dismissed an earlier felony charge. Beardsley was charged after he ran over Chad Finch, 20, (left) who had fallen in the road. Beardsley, who was returning from a party with this girlfriend, pulled over briefly and she called police. However, they then left the scene and returned home.
The felony was for leaving the scene of an accident. However, Curry concluded that the purpose of the law was not really to keep people from leaving the scene of an accident but to call the police and identify themselves. That is not the view in many states, but Curry said that his review of the legislative history led him to conclude that Beardsley could not be charged. Curry wrote that “The statute does not specify the period of time within which the operator must report the incident should there be no one to whom he or she can make the report at the scene of the accident.”
Beardsley admitted to having “three or four beers” at the party before driving his truck.
Finch himself had also been drinking. Indeed, he ironically had a history of DUI. He had just completed a two-year sentence in 2004 after his third driving-while-intoxicated offense in four years. In 2000, he struck a 14-year-old girl riding her bike while driving drunk. In 2004, he injured an 11-year-old child that resulted in Chad Finch’s prison term.
Testing showed that Finch’s Blood Alcohol Content level at .20. It also showed that he was alive before being hit by Beardsley.
Police say that they performed a “prescreening” for alcohol on Beardsley but there is no indication of a BAL test or level determination. They insisted that they had no reason to believe that he had been drinking, but he had in fact been drinking. The question is whether he lied or they failed to ask their fellow officer that relevant question.
Last year, Beardsley agreed to pay $75,000 to lawyers and the victim’s family in damages. He will pay about $43,000 to Finch’s children and about $30,000 to lawyers. The remaining $2,000 will be used to reimburse funeral expenses.
Beardsley was criticized at the time by the sheriff for leaving the scene of an accident. He later insisted in court that Finch “was obviously deceased . . . It (sic) wasn’t really much that could be done except get struck myself or her. …I indicated to her that we should stay until police arrived. She said she wasn’t really comfortable with that. There really wasn’t much we could do, and I agreed with her.”
Source: Times Union