Law Enforcement

St. Louis County officer charged in death of girl hit by car

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis County police officer who struck and killed a 12-year-old girl with his patrol SUV was charged Wednesday with second-degree involuntary manslaughter.

St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said Officer Preston Marquart was charged in the death of Akeelah Jackson after “an exhaustive and detailed investigation” that involved the St. Louis police department.

Akeelah was hit by the county vehicle on Oct. 14 when she was crossing a street in St. Louis. She died several weeks later.

At the time, County Police Sgt. Benjamin Granda said the officer told police he was trying to get closer to a suspicious car to make a traffic stop when he hit the girl. The officer was not using the vehicle’s lights or sirens.

In December, the Ethical Society of Police, a police association of mostly black officers that fights racial discrimination, demanded that the officer be charged in the death of Akeelah, who was black. Marquart is white.

Marquart’s lawyer, Joseph Hogan, said Wednesday that a St. Louis police department investigation determined no charges were warranted against Marquart, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“It is unfortunate that Ms. Gardner continues to make charging decisions based on scoring political points, despite the effect this decision will have not only on my client, but on the entire Jackson family,” he said. “I am confident that when all the facts come to light of this tragedy that took place in 30 seconds, my client will be completely exonerated of all charges.”

Hogan did not explain why he thought his client would be exonerated.

The St. Louis County Police Association also noted that the police department had found no basis for charges and accused Gardner of attempting to “further a political agenda.”

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