Cop kills Biker while chasing motorist with missing inspection sticker!!!
No homicide charge for trooper
[Pennsylvania] State cop charged with reckless driving in accident that killed motorcyclist Tuesday, April 28, 1998
BRIAN GEOGHAN Dispatch/Sunday News
A state police trooper whose out-of-control cruiser killed a motorcyclist on a winding York County road will not be charged with vehicular homicide, the York County District Attorney's office announced today. Called to investigate the accident involving Trooper Gerald Devlin and the motorcyclist, the DA's office decided to charge Devlin only with reckless driving, driving at an unsafe speed and failure to drive on the right side of the road, all summary offenses. The crash occurred on Route 851 in Codorus Township around 5 p.m. March 29, 1998. Devlin had turned his cruiser around to pursue a car that had no inspection sticker. Shortly after turning around, Devlin crashed head-on with a motorcycle driven by 39-year-old Kenneth Saunders Fowler, of Monkton, Md. "I don't think anything would be gained by charging the trooper," District Attorney Stan Rebert said. "It was a terrible tragedy; he was doing his job but he exercised extremely poor judgment, and Mr. Fowler was killed." Two weeks ago, state police investigators turned over their preliminary findings to the DA's office. Rebert's office investigated the accident while state police conducted a "parallel, internal investigation," Rebert said. The results of that investigation are expected soon, he said. An accident reconstruction revealed Devlin was speeding at the point of impact, driving 58 mph in a 45 mph zone, just south of the Route 516 intersection. The curve has 30 mph yellow warning signs, but those signs are only a warning and are not enforceable speed limits, police said. The yellow warning sign facing Devlin's direction of travel, in the westbound lane, had been missing for more than a year. The car that was being pursued has not been located.
END OF ARTICLE ---------------------------------------------
ED Notes: I'll bet if *I* were doing 58 in a curve posted at 30 MPH, I would have gotten a ticket. Since when is a posted speed limit sign on a public road "not enforceable"?
Want to guess what would happen if I crossed the center lane in my car and killed a State Police Motor Officer? Do you think I would be just charged with 3 traffic offenses? Or do you think that the Cops who responded to the accident would beat the crap out of me and that the D.A. would charge me with murder? Are Bikers second class citizens or what?
If Pennsylvania is anything like Oregon, a herd of State Troopers testify how concerned they are about the health and welfare of Motorcyclists each time a helmet repeal bill comes up for a vote in the Legislature. Talk is cheap, guys! If the Authorities in Pennsylvania really give a shit about Biker safety, they need to take the murder of Ken Fowler a bit more seriously!
Following this report is a list of Legislative, media and Law Enforcement contacts where you may write to express your outrage at this situation. THIS COULD HAVE BEEN YOU WHO WAS KILLED BY THIS POLICE OFFICER!!! Once you're dead, you can no longer protest this kind of shit. Do it now! Do it for us and do it for yourself!
Trooper faces $403.50 fine for cyclist's death
Gerald Devlin faces three traffic fines totalling $403.50 in the crash that killed a Monkton, Md., man in March.
By CARYL CLARKE Daily Record staff
(edited for space)
Gayle Fowler believes the Pennsylvania state trooper whose driving killed her husband should face more than traffic citations for his death. But that's all the York County district attorney has charged him with.
"In my view, what the gentleman did was criminal," Fowler said Tuesday. "This trooper made a conscious decision to turn around and pursue that vehicle. He made a conscious decision to push that gas pedal to the floor up to 58 mph. He killed my husband."
Kenneth Saunders Fowler, 39, of Monkton, Md., died March 29 riding his motorcycle on a narrow curve on Route 851 in Codorus Township.
A state police investigation revealed that Trooper Gerald Devlin, 30, was traveling 58 mph around a curve posted at 30 mph. He lost control while chasing a car without an inspection sticker. He crossed into the oncoming lane and crashed head on with Fowler.
District Attorney H. Stanley Rebert reviewed the state police investigation, as well as one conducted by his office, before settling on the charges.
He filed the following three summary traffic violations Tuesday with District Justice James Miner:
Reckless driving with "willful disregard for the safety of other persons." Devlin allegedly accelerated to a high rate of speed while approaching a curve. Conviction carries a fine of $270.50.
Driving at an unsafe speed. Devlin allegedly drove faster than reasonable and prudent while rounding a curve, resulting in an accident. Conviction carries a fine of $66.50.
Driving on the wrong side of the road. Devlin allegedly crossed into the opposing traffic lane, causing an accident. Conviction carries a fine of $66.50.
The citations will be sent by certified mail today. After receiving the citations, Devlin will have 10 days to plead guilty or not guilty. Through his wife, Devlin refused to comment Tuesday.
Fowler's wife thinks Devlin should lose his job.
"An individual who shows such poor judgment, such disregard for the safety of others, should take responsibility for his actions," Gayle Fowler said. "He wears a uniform of honor. He does not have that right any longer."
Her husband, Les Vaughan, expressed outrage at the traffic citations. The family will closely watch the state police administrative investigation, he said.
Police are looking into whether Devlin violated department policies in the chase. In the meantime, he remains on the job.
"My objective is for him to lose his job," Les Vaughan said. "He is a bad decision maker, obviously. I am angry because this is not going as it should be going. There is no way in hell he should be employed there! The state of Pennsylvania should be outraged with what's going on in the state police."
His wife agreed, saying, "Now that we know he was driving recklessly and out of control, there is a question whether he should keep his job. This trooper should not be treated any different than any other person if they drive as recklessly as he did."
Rebert said every case is different.
"Police do have certain privileges which allow them to violate traffic laws in pursuit of another violator," Rebert said. "They have to exercise due regard for citizens."
The filing of the summary charges will have no effect on Devlin's job status, but they will become part of the investigation by the state police Bureau of Professional Responsibility, said Jack Lewis, a state police spokesman.
The bureau's investigation will lead to a decision about discipline.
"He is on restricted status right now -- station duty rather than out on the road," Lewis said. "Typically in the past, I am not aware of anybody being dismissed because of similar traffic offenses. But this is a very unique case."
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This note received today (5/1/98) from Ken Fowler's
"By the way, nothing has changed at the state police barracks in Loganville, Pa. I called to get the status on Devlin's employment (whether he was back on the street or not) and was told it was none of my busines!!!!. These cops just don't get it. They think they can do whatever they want with no regard for human life or the families they damage. Keep up the pressure. Our short-term goal now is to get Devlin dismissed."
Letter sent by the State Cooridinator, ABATE of PA, to District
Attorney Rebert with a copy to Attorney General Mike Fisher:
Dear Mr. Rebert,
As state coordinator of ABATE of Pennsylvania, and in my capacity as a representative of thousands of Pennsylvania motorcyclists, I am writing to express indignation and surprise at your political decision not to prosecute Pennsylvania State Trooper Gerald Devlin for the crime homicide by vehicle.
When it was announced that an official investigation would be undertaken, ABATE of Pennsylvania urged members and others to react with restraint, to let the system take its course, and permit you to conduct a full, and presumably fair, investigation. It was our misplaced belief that after a complete investigation appropriate prosecutorial discretion would be exercised, and you would bring charges that fit the facts. That, apparently, was not the case.
The crimes with which Trooper Devlin has (sic) been charged, reckless driving, driving at an unsafe speed, and failure to drive on the right side of the road, warrant the filing of a charge of homicide by vehicle. Does not the criminal code define one being guilty of "homicide" as one who recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being? The crime of homicide by vehicle
requires the operator to be criminally negligent in committing a violation of the Motor Vehicle Code, and that that violation results in the death of another. By your election to bring the serious traffic offense of reckless driving, it has been demonstrated that the officer's conduct was indeed reckless, a standard higher than that required for a charge of homicide be vehicle. What your failure to file the more serious charge of homicide by vehicle does, is to ignore that fact that the trooper's recklessness did in fact kill a motorcyclist. This oversight is contemptible.
As motorcyclists, we are well aware of popular stereotypes. This was one reason that we initially called for calm so that you could act professionally, but we can not help but believe that if the actor was not a state trooper or the victim was not a motorcyclist, your decision to prosecute would have been different.
We have become used to unequal justice under the law, but we will never accept it. It is not vengeance which is sought, only justice. We demand in the name of justice that the appropriate charge of homicide by vehicle be filed, and that we let a jury of Trooper Devlin's peers decided whether his actions have demonstrated criminal culpability.
By copy of this letter to Attorney General Mike Fisher, we are requesting that he exercise his authority in this matter and remove the investigation to his office so that someone free of local political concerns can provide an objective legal analysis of this situation. Justice demands nothing less.
I remain interested in your opinion, Mr. Rebert, and any clarification of how the facts in this case were rationalized with the criminal statutes and the resultant charges is (sic) eagerly anticipated.
Where to send your complaint letters and calls
Colonel Paul J. Evanko, Commissioner
Pennsylvania State Police
3rd Floor, Department Headquarters
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110
State Police - York - 717-428-1011 FAX: 717-428-2821
State Police Area I HQ - 717-787-7777 FAX: 717-772-6918
State Police Press Secretary - 717-783-5556 FAX: 717-787-2948
York County District Attorney - 717-771-9600<<<<<<<<THE CULPRIT
York County Representative Waugh - 717-227-0760
PA ABATE OFFICE - 717-234-3777 FAX: 717-234-8076
PA ABATE STATE COORDINATOR - 412-774-6542 (FAX/PHONE)
Patriot-News - 717-255-8100
York Daily Record - 717-840-4000
York Dispatch - 717-854-1575
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Thanks to: HD Cowboy
Pennsylvania Coalition of Motorcyclists