Officer charged in wreck on way to robbery scene
A Charlottesville Police officer has been charged with “failure to yield” in an accident that occurred while responding to yesterday’s Wachovia Bank robbery. According to Albemarle County Officer Lt. Todd Hopwood, an accident investigation revealed that Charlottesville Police officer Kyle Boynton, along with his passenger, Officer Otis Collier, tried to “split traffic” at an intersection on Route 29 as they came out of the Seminole Square Shopping Center in an unmarked Ford Taurus police car.
Unfortunately, Boynton collided with Port Republic, Virginia resident Byrl Bowman, who had a green light and was headed North on Route 29 in his Toyota Camry. Hopwood said the light and siren of the Taurus were on, but added they were not as “high-profile” as the ones on a marked police cruiser.
Hopwood suggested that a van that yielded to Officer Boynton may have blocked Bowman’s view of the police car, as well as Officer Boynton’s view of Bowman. Regardless, County investigators felt there was enough probable cause to charge Officer Boynton, says Hopwood, as officers “still have to make sure the intersection is cleared” even when responding to a call.
No one was seriously injured in the accident, though all were taken to the hospital as a precaution. Hopwood says the Taurus suffered $5,000 worth of damage, the Camry $4,000. Bowman, Hopwood mentioned, was wearing a seat belt, while Officers Boynton and Collier were not.
“There are some exemptions for officers that allow them not to wear seat belts,” said Hopwood, but added, “If I’m running a code, I’m wearing my seat belt.”
Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo was unavailable for comment, and City spokesperson Ric Barrick deferred all questions about the accident to the County PD.
“We will be following our standard procedures in reviewing the accident from a policy perspective,” said Barrick.