BEND, Ore. (AP) – An Oregon State Police investigation has found that a police corporal in central Oregon violated department policy by illegally running a red light before striking a truck, a pedestrian and a doughnut shop earlier this year.
The Bulletin reports that Bend Police Chief Jim Porter says the state police investigation shows Cpl. Robert Emerson violated both department policy and state law, but that the crash was one mistake in an otherwise exemplary career.
“Our investigation found that he was in violation of our vehicle operation policies,” Porter said. “Furthermore, a circuit court judge found that he violated state law. So there’s no doubt that on that day he was in violation of policy and state law, and that he made a mistake. There is absolutely no doubt about that.”
Emerson was cited after the March 5 crash and paid a $260 fine. Emerson collided with a pickup truck, slid across an intersection, hit a pedestrian and smashed into the Dough Nut shop, Oregon State Police said. No shop employees or customers were injured. Both Emerson and the pedestrian were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Emerson had been on duty for about an hour at the time of the crash and was the supervisor of four other on-duty officers. A report of a stolen vehicle that had fled police had come in just before the crash. In a written statement, Emerson told state police that he believed the driver of the stolen vehicle was impaired and he wanted to get in front of the driver to deploy spike strips.
Data from Emerson’s squad car computer show he was traveling 66 mph in a 35 mph zone with lights and sirens on for 1.5 seconds before he T-boned a green 1997 Chevrolet truck.
Porter said Emerson made a mistake, but he was an otherwise exemplary officer with eight citizen commendations and 10 internal commendations over his 13-year career. Porter said this is Emerson’s only violation.
“In his zeal to apprehend suspects he could have been more alert to his situation,” Porter said. “His intent was to try and arrest felons, not to try and better a personal agenda.”
Emerson declined to comment. He was convicted of his traffic signal violation and has since filed an appeal of the decision.