Every Philadelphia resident is subject to the laws of the state of Pennsylvania. This includes elected officials, police officers and everyone else. No one is exempt and there are no exceptions. And just like every resident is subject to the laws of Pennsylvania, every person charged with a crime has the same constitutional rights and protections as well.
A Philadelphia police sergeant was involved in a car accident a couple of weeks ago resulting in the death of the other driver. The police sergeant was off-duty at the time of the accident. The sergeant’s wife had also died unexpectedly from an aneurysm a week before the incident. Prior to being charged criminally by the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, the Philadelphia Police Commissioner suspended the sergeant for his role in the incident and the intent is to dismiss the sergeant from the police force. However, shortly after the Police Commissioner announced the suspension, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office charged the sergeant with multiple offenses including DUI and involuntary manslaughter.
When a person is charged with involuntary manslaughter, it means that the person acted with reckless disregard for human life and the person knew or should have known those actions were a threat to human life, or the death occurred while the person was committing another crime without the intent to kill. Often times it is charged when a death occurs in an accident involving a DUI charge. It is a felony and, if convicted, it carries at least a 12-month prison sentence plus fines.
The sergeant clearly faces serious charges. However, even though the sergeant has been suspended from the police force for this incident, criminally he has only been charged at this time. The police sergeant has not had a chance to defend himself in court and under the constitution he maintains his innocence until he is proven guilty.
As stated above, every Philadelphia citizen is bound by the laws of Pennsylvania and has the same rights and protections if charged with a crime. Experienced attorneys may be useful in helping a person understand and protect these rights.
Source: CBS Philly, “Police officer faces charges in deadly Holmesburg Crash” Mike Dougherty, Sept. 27, 2013