Deputy's non-use of siren, lights examined in fatal crash

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) — A deputy's decision not to activate his vehicle's overhead lights and siren prior to fatally striking an 11-year-old boy on a minibike in southern Michigan will be part of an internal review.

The review will follow a state police investigation into Tuesday night's crash in Battle Creek and determine whether the deputy complied with department policy, Calhoun County Sheriff Matt Saxton said Wednesday.

The deputy was responding to a report of a possible burglary in Springfield when he hit the boy about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at an intersection in Battle Creek, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) west of Detroit.

The patrol car and minibike were westbound on a four-lane street when it appears the bike turned left at an intersection into the car's path, Saxton said.

Saxton said he did not know how fast the deputy was driving at the time the boy was struck. He said that and other details will be part of the state police investigation.

Citing the state police investigation, Saxton declined to discuss the deputy's decision not to turn on his vehicle's overhead lights and sirens. "That's a process we're going to look at going forward," he said.

State law includes provisions that allow officers not to use overhead lights and sirens when responding to certain emergency situations, according to Robert Stevenson, executive director of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.

Minibikes — called pocket bikes under state law — are not made for use on roadways, and don't meet the requirements like engine displacement, front and rear brakes or a horn to be classified as a moped.

"An 11-year-old should not be out on a pocket bike that's not made for the roadway," Saxton said. "I'm not saying that to apply any fault. At any age, nobody should be using it on the roadway."

The boy's name was not released Wednesday. He was a student at Verona Elementary in Battle Creek. "We notified the schools early this morning so they would be able to have counseling at the school building the child attended," said Saxton, who called the incident "tragic" for the boy's parents and the deputy.

"Right now, we're trying to get him some help ... to make sure he gets through this and comes out the other side OK," Saxton said of the deputy. "We're grieving for the parents of the 11-year-old child who lost his life."

The deputy, whom Saxton did not identify, spent about 18 years with the Springfield Police Department and the past five with the sheriff's office.

He was taken to a hospital Tuesday night as a precaution but was not injured. His duty status has not changed, Saxton said.

State police will review footage of the crash from the patrol car's in-dash camera and deputy's bodycam.

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