09/21/2007

Ex-Ind. officer charged in campus joy ride

The Associated Press

MUNCIE, Ind. — Prosecutors have filed two misdemeanor charges against a former police officer who authorities say crashed a squad car while showing off for three female college students riding with him.

Jason Lyons, 38, was charged in Muncie City Court with reckless driving and interference with reporting a crime. A preliminary arraignment was pending.

Lyons, a six-year veteran of the police force, resigned this month after being suspended over the Aug. 28 crash along a street outside a Ball State University residence hall complex.

"These are clear-cut cases," Delaware County Prosecutor Mark McKinney said Wednesday.

Lyons could not be located for comment because no telephone number was listed in his name.

The three female freshmen told investigators they met Lyons, who called himself "Rico," about 1 a.m. at a near-campus convenience store, police said.

"We all asked if he could give us a ride back to the dorms, and 'Rico' said, 'Sure, I'll take you,'" one of the students, Stacy Walters, said in a police statement.

Walters said she and the other girls then screamed in terror as Lyons drove fast down a couple streets before hitting a curb and crashing.

"I was surprised at how fast 'Rico' got out of the car and opened the back door," Walters said. "He's telling us to get out and run."

The crash did several thousand dollars in damage to the squad car, and one of the students suffered a head cut, police said.

Lyons afterward said he was "scared and afraid" and not thinking clearly when he failed to tell supervisors all the details of the accident, according to police reports. A report quotes Lyons as telling a supervisor that "I was stupid and trying to impress three pretty girls who were paying attention to me."

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