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Louisiana Cop Charged With Negligent Homicide After Crashing Into Teens’ Car While Pursuing Another Vehicle

Brusly, LA – An Addis police officer has been arrested on charges of negligent homicide after he crashed into an uninvolved vehicle while pursuing a fleeing driver on Saturday.

Two high school cheerleaders, 17-year-old Maggie Dunn and 15-year-old Caroline Gill, were killed in the high-speed collision, WAFB reported.

A third teenager was injured.

The series of events leading to the deadly crash began in Baton Rouge, when 24-year-old Tyquel Zanders allegedly barged into a family member’s home in the 3200-block of Blackwell Drive and stole the keys to a 2016 Nissan Altima belonging to his father, 18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton told The Advocate.

Clayton said Zanders shoved his father down to the ground before taking off with the stolen vehicle.

The Baton Rouge Police Department (BRPD) received a report of the stolen car and soon spotted Zanders driving on River Road near the Raising Cane’s River Center, according to The Advocate.

But when officers tried to pull him over, Zanders took off at a high rate of speed, police said.

According to court documents, Zanders barreled through multiple red lights during the ensuing chase as he traveled 80 miles per hour on Government Street and 110 miles per hour down Interstate 10, The Advocate reported.

He flew across the Mississippi River Bridge and made his way into West Baton Rouge and Brusly.

Officers were chasing the suspect through Brusly on La. 1 when 42-year-old Addis Police Department Officer David Cauthron crashed his patrol car into an uninvolved vehicle occupied by Gill, Maggie Dunn, and her brother, Liam Dunn, The Advocate reported.

The girls were both killed in the wreck, and Liam Dunn was critically injured.

Sources said Officer Cauthron’s GPS showed he was traveling 86 miles per hour when he crashed into the teens, and that he didn’t brake before the impact, WBRZ reported.

Witnesses also said the officer ran through a light that had been red for about 20 seconds prior to him going through the intersection, according to the news outlet.

The force of the impact shoved the teens’ car into the highway median.

According to court documents, Zanders continued to flee in the wake of the crash and drove back across the Mississippi River Bridge, The Advocate reported.

His vehicle ultimately stalled out at the Dalrymple exit, at which point he was apprehended by police.

Zanders faces charges of aggravated flight, theft of a vehicle, and two counts of manslaughter, The Advocate reported.

“He put the chain of events into play,” Clayton told The Advocate. “He’s responsible for all the reactions to his actions. He’s facing two counts, and if that poor kid doesn’t survive, he’ll face another.”

Officer Cauthron was arrested Sunday night on one count of negligent injuring and two counts of negligent homicide, according to WBRZ.

His bond was set at $100,000.

“That cop has a lot of questions to answer pertaining to his speed and sheer negligence,” Clayton declared to WBRZ shortly before Officer Cauthron’s arrest. “The public can rest assured; we will follow the facts.”

The officer’s arrest came after investigators reviewed dashcam footage and other video of the fatal crash.

“For these kids to not to have been able to start the New Year is inexcusable, but we’ll follow the facts first,” Clayton told WBRZ. “I just can’t put my arms around why (the officer) was driving at that rate of speed in pursuit of this vehicle. This officer is facing some serious issues.”

Clayton said he has also asked for the BRPD to explain why they began pursuing Zanders in the first place, regardless of the home invasion and motor vehicle theft.

“If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit,” the prosecutor opined. “It’s just not worth the risk.”

Officer Cauthron served with the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office prior to joining the Addis Police Department in February of last year, WBRZ reported.

He remained in jail on Monday.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

View all articles
Written by Holly Matkin

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