Prince George's officer killed in I-95 crash
Updated: August 24, 2012 - 10:10 pm
After a 4-day manhunt, the man who was allegedly behind the wheel of the Acura that was involved in a crash that killed a Prince George's County Police officer is in custody, police say.
Prince George's County Police officials say that Kevon Darnell Neal, 23, the second man who was wanted in connection with Monday's fatal crash, turned himself in to authorities late Thursday night.
Police say he's being held on a no bond status due to probation violations in multiple jurisdictions. Neal, of the 3400 block of Gennene Lane in Fort Washington, will have a preliminary hearing on November 30.
Kenneth Clark Mitchell 24, of the 5300 block of Clay Terrace, NE, Washington, DC, was arrested on Wednesday, August 22. Both are charged with felony theft for the stolen auto involved in the crash.
Authorities issued arrest warrant for Neal earlier this week on charges of auto theft.
Neal is alleged to have been driving the silver Acura that 23-year-old Police Officer Adrian Morris and his partner, Mike Rishner, were chasing when it ran off of southbound I-95 and ran into a ditch.
Police say Neal swerved across four lanes of I-95 at more than 100 miles an hour. Other cars swerved and Morris and Risher lost control and flipped off the road.
Morris was ejected from the car and killed. Risher, suffered multiple but non-life threatening injuries. Though Neal flatly refused to accept responsibility for the incident, Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw thinks otherwise.
"Their actions caused the death of Adrian Morris, in my opinion," he said. "These arrests bring some closure, hopefully, and comfort as we prepare to bury our fallen hero."
An alleged accomplice to Neal, 24-year-old Kenneth Mitchell, was arrested Tuesday at his Northeast Washington home. He was allegedly in the passenger seat during the chase and has already been charged with auto theft.
State's Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said that even though felony theft is the only thing both Neal and Mitchell can be charged with in the short term, prosecutors will also look into charging them with vehicular manslaughter.
Sources say that evidence linking the 24-year-old alleged accomplice to car thefts in the Laurel area was found inside his apartment. Mitchell, who sources say was the passenger in the silver Acura during the chase, was arrested in Southeast Washington just after 3 a.m. Tuesday in an apartment near where the vehicle was recovered on St. Louis Street SE.
Contrary to early witness accounts, police do not believe the suspects ran the police cruiser off the road, Sources say the surviving officer told detectives that the suspects were never closer than 40 yards to the police vehicle during the chase. According to Risher, Morris simply lost control as he maneuvered around a truck at a very high rate of speed.
Their patrol car flipped several times before coming to a rest in a ditch near the interchange with Powder Mill Road.
The incident began Monday afternoon when Morris and Risher were called to a Shell gas station, located at 6600 Sandy Spring Road in Laurel, for an attempted vehicle theft. While on the scene, a gas station employee told the officers he saw the suspects' silver Acura with a temporary license plate return to the station.
Morris and Risher returned to their cruiser and the tragic chase ensued.
Morris, a 2 1/2-year veteran of the force, spent time at the 6th District in Prince George's County since he was "15 or 16 years old." The 2007 graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School participated in the department's Police Explorer Program.
Risher, who has been with the force for about a year, was released from the hospital following treatment of injuries received.
Prince George's County's 6th district serves the City of Laurel and northeastern portion of the county.
"The community will wrap its arms around these officers and their families to get through this," County Executive Rushern Baker said.
Magaw said the officers followed protocol during the incident and that he's "very proud" of their work.
"It shows the courage and dedication of these officers," Magaw said.
Morris, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, was raised in Laurel, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2009.
After becoming a police officer, Morris continued to work with the Police Explorer Program as an advisor and mentor, the department says.
"Police Officer Morris represented the very best that our agency has to offer," said Magaw. "He wanted to be a Prince George's County police officer from a very young age, and it showed in all of his interactions with the community."
Ernesto Vasquez's knees buckled when he learned the young officer had died.
Vasquez saw the whole incident unfold before his eyes as he traveled I-95 southbound in Beltsville.
He says there is no doubt in his mind that the Acura driver intentionally cut off the marked police cruiser, sending it off the highway.
Vasquez says he wants the guy caught.
“These officers were just doing their job,” he says.
Below neighbors' remember the fallen officer.