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D.A. drops charges in fatal police collision

Investigation exonerates driver involved in crash that killed Officer James Manor

Updated Friday, June 5, 2009 | 4:10 p.m.

Metro Police officer killed

Metro Police officer James Manor, 28, was killed at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Ravenwood Drive Thursday morning. Launch slideshow »

Officer James Manor

Metro Officer James Manor and his daughter, Jayla Manor. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

Calvin Darling

Metro Police investigators have recommended to District Attorney David Roger that all charges filed against Calvin Darling, whose vehicle collided with a speeding police cruiser last month, be dropped.

Roger agreed with the conclusion of the police investigation and has dropped and will not file future charges against Darling.

"This case was a tragedy all around," Roger said.

Metro's Fatal Accident Investigation Detail completed its investigation into the crash that took the life of 28-year-old Officer James Manor, a police statement said today.

Darling collided with a Metro Police cruiser responding to a 911 call about 12:49 a.m. May 7. Darling grabbed a fire extinguisher and tried to douse flames coming from the police car as the officer remained trapped.

Darling's red 1999 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck was making a left turn off Flamingo Road onto Ravenwood Drive as Manor's 2005 Ford Crown Victoria cruiser was speeding.

"As in every case we investigate, Metro's goal was to conduct an investigation which was efficient, accurate and thorough," Sheriff Doug Gillespie said in a statement. "That has occurred."

Investigators said they considered several factors during the investigation. They included physical evidence at the collision site, witness statements and statements made by Darling, information from "black boxes" contained in both the police cruiser and the pickup truck, the weather, road and lighting conditions and evidence gathered from both the police car and the pickup.

The ultimate conclusion of the investigation was that Manor's speed at 109 mph was both unsafe and unreasonable and was the primary cause of the collision. Although Manor braked and swerved to the right, he was still going 90 mph at the point of impact, Gillespie said.

The investigators also concluded that any reasonable person would have been unable to determine the police cruiser was traveling at more than 100 mph as it approached the intersection going east on Flamingo in response to a domestic violence call. That person would have felt he had sufficient time to make the left turn before the officer's car, without flashing lights and sirens, had reached him, the report said.

Darling had initially been arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and interfering with an officer, but he was released from the Clark County Detention Center the day after the crash when two blood-alcohol tests showed he was below the legal limit for a DUI charge.

Sean P. Sullivan, Darling's attorney, said police investigators cooperated throughout the investigation. The investigation took a long time because witnesses were interviewed, Sullivan said.

"Their investigation has been transparent, nothing was held back," Sullivan said.

Metro investigators have also examined the actions of a 14-year-old girl who placed the initial 911 call that Manor was responding to. That investigation concluded that the girl did not commit any criminal action and will not be charged in the incident, police said.

Metro's driving policies are under department review to assure they are balanced, safe and effective, Gillespie said.

The sheriff formed an executive committee after the collision to review how officers respond to calls. Since then, there have been three more officer-involved traffic collisions.

Darling's attorney, Sean Sullivan, said statements made by police at the time of the crash came from an "emotionally charged" atmosphere. Sullivan launched an independent investigation of the crash and hired Steve Winnie, a former Metro Police officer, and Dennis Reefer, a private investigator, to help him.

"I felt that the initial action was an emotionally charged event," Sullivan said, especially with police saying that Manor had his emergency lights and siren on.

Metro invited Sullivan and his investigators to see the opening of the cruiser's and pickup truck's computers, also known as "black boxes."

"His investigation was transparent," Sullivan said of police investigators.

Sullivan and his team also brought forward eyewitnesses to the collision.

"No, I'm not happy Calvin was prosecuted in the press, but I am pleased that Calvin has been cleared of all charges," Sullivan said.

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