The Gazette Mail is reporting that officer Stephen Doss will continue his paid vacation after pleading guilty to driving his Charleston Police Department (CPD) cruiser without lights or sirens crashing into 80-year-old Dora Clarke. Clarke died several days later. CPD is allowing Doss to continue to collect a check while they conduct an internal review of the wreck that killed Clarke in January.
Doss is accused of driving his patrol vehicle at high speeds without using his siren or lights as a warning to other motorists. It is a misdemeanor violation in Charleston. Doss crashed into Clarke while responding to a call about a home invasion. Apparently Doss didn’t want to scare off the perpetrator(s) so he sped to the call without his lights flashing or siren blaring. Clarke succumbed to her injuries from the crash five days later.
Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom assessed the value of Clarke’s life and passed down his sentence on Doss. Clarke’s life was worth 10 days of community service and one year of probation. Doss gets to avoid jail time and any real punishment for killing Clarke. Involuntary vehicular manslaughter was not even a topic of discussion.
Charleston City Attorney Paul Ellis wrote in an email that the department’s Professional Standards Division will review Doss’ criminal dossier as well as the judge’s order. It is considered a standard procedure because state law mandates an internal investigation. State law also requires that the officer remain on administrative leave while the internal review is conducted. According to Ellis, police chief Steve Cooper will review the findings of the internal investigation and may recommend an additional punishment.
If Cooper does offer a recommendation for punishment, Doss will have the opportunity at that time to see the recommended discipline. Doss can than request a hearing from the department’s review board. If an undesired result is had from the hearing, Doss can appeal the hearing’s decision to the Police Civil Service Commission. After that, the consequent decisions can be appealed to the Kanawha County Circuit Court and the West Virginia Supreme Court.
In the meantime, Doss will continue to get paid.
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