Charges Against Prado Dropped, for Now
Driver in collision that killed Ofc. Abdul-Khaliq stays hung in the balance
Ana Marie Prado, the individual who caused the accident that killed APD Officer Amir Abdul-Khaliq on Sept. 1, saw her citation dismissed at Austin's municipal court last Tuesday. Prado had been cited for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, a class C misdemeanor punishable by a $500 fine, when she took a left turn driving southbound on Burnet Road and collided with Abdul-Khaliq, who was escorting a funeral procession. (Abdul-Khaliq died that Sunday, Sept. 4.) The case remains open: Prosecutors are currently looking into whether to bring new charges on Prado (manslaughter would be the most severe, in all likelihood), or whether enough mitigating factors were in play that could absolve Prado of wrongdoing. Those may include Abdul-Khaliq's positioning with respect to the procession, the amount of space between procession cars, and whether or not a driver in the procession waved Prado through to turn. Word is that prosecutors opted to dismiss the initial charge so as to prevent a case of double jeopardy: Had Prado pleaded guilty and paid the fine, she could have avoided being tried on other, potentially more serious charges.
Police Chief Art Acevedo told the press last week that the department has begun reviewing its policies for escorting funeral processions. At present, APD Policy 949.5.3 stipulates that officers working Law Enforcement Related Employment (LERE) assignments as motor vehicle escort guides for public safety purposes (such as funeral processions and oversized loads) are off-duty and do so on personally owned motorcycles – think of it like any secondary employment gig working security – although the fact that they're in uniform and ride bikes equipped with flashing lights means that a failure to yield to an emergency vehicle charge could still apply in similar situations. Police sources say the department is specifically looking into whether escort fleets should get adjusted to demand additional officers for processions, and if officers should escort the processions in city-owned squad cars, rather than personal motorcycles. City code currently requires only three officers for caravans of 50 cars or more.