Criminal charges dropped in the death of Sheriff's Deputy - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

2/9/10

Criminal charges dropped in death of Lubbock Co. Sheriff's Deputy

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By Katie Bauer  - bio | email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We are learning more surrounding the District Attorney's decision to not pursue criminal charges in the death of a Lubbock County Sheriff's Deputy.

Corporal D. Robert Harvey was killed back in April when his squad car collided head-on with a Ford pick up near 88th and Martin Luther King Blvd.

While the community mourned the loss of a sheriff's deputy, and a family tried to make sense of why their loved one was taken so soon, the Department of Public Safety worked feverishly to complete an thorough investigation. "The bottom line based on that investigation they presented us with no charges are asked to be filed," said District Attorney Matt Powell. 

Powell says his office has dismissed criminal charges against Justin McKinney. McKinney was originally charged with Intoxication Manslaughter and turned himself in back in April. But there was a lot of confusion after he told authorities he was not the driver. He claimed Justin Walkup, the other man in the truck that night, was driving. Investigators say both men were ejected from the vehicle.

Powell says based on the investigation he believes McKinney was the one driving that night. "It just breaks my heart for his family because of these circumstances and if I thought it was there, we would be vigorously pursuing it," said Powell.

Shortly after the crash, Dallas attorney John Barr was hired by one of the restaurants McKinney and Walkup were seen drinking in that night. Barr told NewsChannel 11 he bought McKinney's wrecked truck and after testing it, he says a crash expert determined Harvey's squad car was going at least 85 miles per hour.

Barr also says he found two witnesses in the area that saw the deputy's car traveling very fast without lights or sirens. "Let me make it abundantly clear, I don't believe that D. is responsible for this accident, I think some of the things that he was doing contributed to the accident, but I don't think he was a single player in the deal," said Powell.

And that's why Powell says with lack of evidence he will not be presenting this case to a grand jury. "I think what most folks believe is if someone is drunk and they are driving and death occurs in that accident than that person is responsible it. Unfortunately that's not what the law says. The law says because of that intoxication that was the factor," said Powell.

Although Powell says some mistakes were made in the investigation, he says the errors were not major. "It's easy for me to go back in a nice clear setting and say you should have done this. When I'm watching that crash, and I'm in the middle of it and it's my friend in that vehicle I'm not going to blame anybody for doing what they did or did not do," said Powell.

The Harvey family can still file civil charges in this case, but at this time it is unclear if those will be pursued.

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