CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer’s charge has been upgraded after he was accused of hitting and killing a Central Piedmont Community College student with his patrol car while on duty.
A grand jury indicted Officer Phillip Barker last month on charges of felony involuntary manslaughter in James Michael Short’s death.
Barker was originally charged with death by motor vehicle. However, the court upgraded his charges after it received more information about the incident.
Charlotte Police Officer Was Speeding Badly
Authorities said Barker, 24, was going 100-mph in a 30-mph zone when he fatally struck Short, 28, in July on Morehead Street near Dilworth Neighborhood Grille. Investigators said that Barker was responding to a crash at the time of the accident.
Short was crossing at a red light and the officer had a green light, police said. However, police Chief Kerr Putney emphasized that the extra speed warranted charges against Barker in the first place.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have strict rules when it comes to emergency response. The rules state that the officer’s speed must always be reasonable, and the department does not feel going 100 mph to an accident with minor injuries qualifies.
So, an officer responding to a man chasing someone with a gun would get a lot more latitude. However, the authorities determined that Barker’s speed was not proportionate to the emergency he was responding to.
On top of his excessive speed, Barker failed to slow down when approaching the intersection. The rules state that the officer will reduce the speed of the police vehicle when approaching an intersection in that type of emergency. This rule is in place to prevent exactly this kind of situation from happening. Even though the officer had the green light to go through the intersection, intersections are somewhat unpredictable. Hopefully, Barker’s punishment deters other officers from speeding like he did.