A St. Louis County police officer, who hit a 12-year-old with his patrol SUV during a chase, has been charged with her death. Preston Marquart, 25, was charged with second-degree involuntary murder in the death of Akeelah Jackson.
The charges “follow an exhaustive and detailed investigation in collaboration with our partners in the 6th District and Traffic Divisions of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner said in a statement.
Marquart struck Jackson with his patrol SUV around 5:50 p.m on October 14, 2019, during a chase in the 8900 block of Halls Ferry at a speed of 59 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone with no lights or sirens on when Jackson stepped into the street, KMOV reported. Jackson died almost a month after the incident.
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According to court documents, Marquart caused Akeelah’s death with “criminal negligence” as he tried to stop the driver of a black Chevy Camaro with plates belonging to a different car, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Marquart’s Attorney Joseph Hogan, described the charges as unfortunate after the SLMPD conducted “an extensive investigation in this case and determined no criminal charges were warranted against my client.”
“The Circuit Attorney, conducting her own investigation, has now charged our client. Unfortunately, Ms. Gardner continues to make charging decisions based on scoring political points, despite the effect this decision will have not only on our client but on the entire Jackson family,” Hogan said.
But the Ethical Society of Police, which has always been outspoken on racial matters in the St. Louis police force and community disagrees with Marquart’s Attorney.
“We are trained to turn ON our lights and siren,” the ethical society, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. “The policy Officer Marquart signed off on states to be considered an emergency vehicle you must have on your lights and siren.”
A witness to the incident told KMOV that Jackson could not react quickly to dodge the approaching car due to its speed. “The car hit her and she flew in the air and came back down,” said the witness.
Willie, Jackson’s father, previously told News 4: “She nearly broke every bone in her body. Both legs, arms, skull fracture, jaw, teeth missing, and knocked out her wrist.”
“I feel they need to pay for what they did to my niece,” the aunt, Michelle Jackson said. “They need to suffer or something. It is not fair. Her life was stolen from her. I feel the police stole her life. I feel he needs to pay for what he did to my niece.”