A Louisiana police officer was arrested and accused of negligent homicide after causing a fatal car crash that left two teenage girls dead on New Year’s Eve, while he was pursuing a robbery suspect in another car, unrelated to the teen girls.
Officer David Cauthron of the Addis Police Department, 42, was pursuing a thief when the officer ran a red light. He was driving at a very high speed and crashed into a car that had three teenage passengers, according to Louisiana’s 18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton.
The crash killed 17-year-old Maggie Dunn and 16-year-old Caroline Gill.
Dunn’s brother, Liam Dunn, 20, was also in the vehicle, but he survived the accident with serious injuries.
Cauthron was arrested on New Year’s Day and charged with negligent homicide and injury. He was taken into custody in West Baton Rouge, and his bond was set at $100,000.
At the time of the crash, Officer Cauthron was pursuing a robbery suspect, Tyquel Zanders, 24. Zanders had been accused of stealing his father’s vehicle. The officer began the chase in Baton Rouge, ran the red light and crashed into the teens’ car.
The two deceased girls, Maggie Dunn and Caroline Gill, were members of the cheerleading squad at Brusly High School. A statement from the school said that Dunn was an 11th-grade student and Gill was in the 10th grade.
After the officer’s car crash, Zanders continued driving and crossed over into West Baton Rouge, where officers arrested him when his car stalled.
Police charged Zanders with two counts of manslaughter related to the crash.
District Attorney Clayton said in a statement that his office was conducting a thorough investigation into the crash, including analyzing all body cam footage, interviews with witnesses, and interviewing the officer. After completing their investigations, his office will present the case to a grand jury.
DA Clayton expressed his grief, saying that he could not understand why Cauthron was driving through a red light at such a high speed. He condemned the officer’s conduct, saying that sirens and a police car do not give an officer authority to run a red light.
According to Clayton, the evidence shows that the officer was negligent, and the two girls would not have died if Cauthron had used common sense.