NC officer charged
in fatal car crash
[Charlotte, NC]

From Staff and Wire Reports
December 20, 2000 Wednesday, Final Edition
Copyright 2000 The News and Observer
The News and Observer (Raleigh, NC)
December 20, 2000 Wednesday, Final Edition

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- A police officer involved in a fatal wreck while on duty in October has been charged with misdemeanor death by vehicle.

Officer Scott Darby, 25, was arrested Monday and released on a $2,500 unsecured bond, according to court records.

Darby was traveling Oct. 13 without his blue lights on at 68 mph - nearly twice the speed limit - when his cruiser struck a 1997 Honda, a police investigator said.

Sara Gaffney, 23, a passenger in the Honda, died at the scene.

The Honda's driver was treated for minor injuries.

Darby was on his way to help another officer with a traffic stop, police said.

The maximum punishment for misdemeanor death by vehicle is 120 days imprisonment. Drivers are guilty if the court finds they unintentionally cause the death of another person by breaking state or local motor-vehicle laws. The officer also was cited for failure to reduce speed to avoid a collision, which could result in driver's license suspension.

"Although it is very difficult for the department to see a member charged, officers must be accountable for their actions," Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Darrel Stephens said in a written statement.

Darby, who remains on administrative duty, also faces a chain-of-command review next month to determine whether he violated department policies and procedures. Department policy requires officers to use emergency equipment if they exceed the speed limit.

A death-by-vehicle conviction would not automatically cost Darby his job, according to Joyce Brooks, a Charlotte attorney for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. The N.C.

Criminal Justice Standards Commission also could revoke his policing license, Brooks said.

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