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'Stop the damn pursuit,' DA says after high-speed chase left innocent girls dead
BRUSLY - A capital area prosecutor released a statement Tuesday lambasting a now-arrested police officer for his role in a pursuit that left two teenagers dead and a third in critical condition.
District Attorney Tony Clayton released a formal statement Tuesday, two days after David Cauthron was booked into jail on charges of negligent homicide and negligent injuring.
Clayton said that Cauthron was "grossly negligent" during the pursuit, which involved a suspect accused of stealing his father's car in Baton Rouge. The suspect, Tyquel Zanders, led police on a lengthy chase across the Mississippi River bridge and into West Baton Rouge.
Though sources told WBRZ that Baton Rouge Police backed off at that point, law enforcement on the west side picked up the chase. Cauthron, an Addis police officer, was chasing after the suspect when he ran a red light and t-boned another car.
Two teenagers inside that vehicle, 17-year-old Maggie Dunn and 16-year-old Caroline Gill, died at the crash scene. Both were cheerleaders at Brusly High. Dunn's brother, a UL Lafayette student, was badly hurt in the wreck and remains hospitalized in critical condition Tuesday.
Sources told WBRZ Tuesday that Cauthron was going about 86 miles per hour at the time of the wreck and never applied his brakes.
“Sirens and police vehicles do not give an officer the authority to cut through a red light. They must slow down or come to a complete stop when human life is in danger," Clayton said. "In this case, evidence appears to show that the officer was grossly negligent, and the lives of these young people would not have been taken had he exercised common sense.”
“If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit. It's just not worth
the risk," Clayton added.
Cauthron was booked into jail Sunday, a day after the crash, and Clayton said the officer was still in jail as of Tuesday. He is being held on a $100,000 bond.
Read the statement from Clayton's office below.
“My office will conduct a thorough investigation of the case, including analyzing all police unit dash camera and officer camera footage, communication with the officer, and interviews with witnesses; and will present the case to a grand jury,” said 18th Judicial District Attorney Tony Clayton.
“We will follow the facts of the case, but I cannot understand why the officer was driving at
such a high rate of speed through a red light,” DA Clayton said. “Sirens and police vehicles do not give an officer the authority to cut through a red light. They must slow down or come to a complete stop when human life is in danger. In this case, evidence appears to show that the officer was grossly negligent, and the lives of these young people would not have been taken had he exercised common sense.”
“If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit. It's just not worth the risk. This is a tragic case that has impacted many families and an entire community, and
ended the lives of young people with a promising future ahead of them. It’s very sad.”
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