A Missouri police officer who allegedly hit a 12-year-old girl with his patrol car last October is now facing manslaughter charges in connection with her death, say authorities.
On Wednesday, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office announced that St. Louis County Officer Preston Marquart, 25, is charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Akeelah “Kee Kee” Jackson, the Circuit Attorney announced in a release obtained by PEOPLE.
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“The charges follow an exhaustive and detailed investigation in collaboration with our partners in the 6th District and Traffic Divisions of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department,” the release says.
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
On Oct. 14 at about 5:50 p.m., Marquart was chasing a suspect for a traffic violation at a top speed of 59 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone on Halls Ferry Road with no lights or sirens on when Jackson ran into the street, local station KMOV reports.
Marquart was unable to stop in time and struck the child, who looked up and saw the car but didn’t have time to move out of the way, KMOV reports.
“The car hit her and she flew in the air and came back down,” a witness told KMOV.
Marquart stopped and reported the incident and cooperated with the police department, the outlet reports.
A 7th grade student at Carr Lane VPA Middle School, Jackson was taken to a local hospital where she underwent surgery.
She died on November 12, 2019, the St. Louis American reports.
Marquart, who had worked as an officer for four years at the time of the accident, “remains employed by the St. Louis County Police Department,” the department said in a statement, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
“He will be suspended without pay, which is consistent with the department’s Conduct and Discipline Manual.”
“Akeelah and her loved ones continue to be in our thoughts and prayers, just as they have been since that tragic day,” the statement says.
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Since December, The Ethical Society of Police in St. Louis has demanded that Marquart be charged in the child’s death because he didn’t turn on his lights and siren, the St. Louis American reports.
“I doubt the officer that killed Akeelah with his reckless actions wanted to hurt a child,” Taylor said in December. “However, a child has lost her life, with her family left to pick up the pieces from his actions. The officer must be charged and held responsible.”
Attorneys for Marquart released a statement saying they are going to fight the charges, KMOV reports.
“Today is a sad day. Our client is devastated by the tragedy that took the life of Akeelah Jackson and continues to pray for her family daily,” the statement reads.
“The SLMPD conducted an extensive investigation in this case and determined no criminal charges were warranted against my client. …We are confident that when all the facts come to light of this tragedy that took place in 30 seconds, our client will be completely exonerated of all charges.”