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Houston cop who struck and killed man with patrol car was driving at an unsafe speed, report details
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The Houston police officer who hit and killed a man walking to his barber Dec. 4 sped onto the sidewalk to avoid crashing into another car, according to details in a crash report.

 

Michael Wayne Jackson, a 62-year-old laborer who lived with his brother in Sunnyside, was pronounced dead on scene. The report identified the driving officer as Orlando Hernandez, a 25-year-old beat cop with fewer than two years on the force. Ofc. Anthony Aranda, 25, was in the cruiser's passenger seat. The two were automatically placed on three days' administrative duty but have since been listed as active duty, Houston Police Department spokesperson Jodi Silva said Wednesday. Silva declined to answer if either officer was back behind the wheel of a patrol car or was assigned to a desk.

 

Investigators determined that Hernandez was "traveling at an unsafe speed" westbound along the 4100 block of Reed Road that Saturday evening. With lights and sirens activated, the pair was rushing to help fellow officers detain five individuals who fled from their car on foot after a short pursuit. As Hernandez approached the intersection of Scott Street, he encountered stopped traffic, according to the report.

 

Investigators said Hernandez "performed a faulty evasive action" by driving onto the sidewalk to avoid colliding with a car. He hit Jackson from behind, throwing the 6-foot, 195-pound man nearly 60 feet. The cruiser continued into an adjacent parking lot and stopped after crashing into a Dumpster. It is not noted whether Hernandez had control of the cruiser by the time it hit the bin.

 

"I need HFD here," Hernandez told dispatchers at 5:41 p.m., according to archived police radio traffic. "I just got wrecked out, uh, Scott and Reed. One male patient is going to be knocked unconscious, not breathing, uh, bleeding from the head."

 

Paramedics with the Houston Fire Department rushed to the scene and pronounced Jackson dead. An autopsy from the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences determined Jackson died from "multiple blunt force injuries." His manner of death was determined to be an accident.

 

Hernandez and Aranda declined to give statements to investigators for the crash report, which was filed by an officer in HPD's vehicular crimes division. Hernandez was not tested for alcohol or drugs, it was noted in the report.

 

"It looks like to me, maybe the guys couldn't drive that well," Jackson's adult brother Timothy Jackson said in the days following the collision. "They just weren't ready. Their skill level in pursuits maybe wasn't that good, because they came out of the street onto the sidewalk. They put anybody that's on the sidewalk in danger."

 

At a press briefing on the night of the collision, HPD Executive Asst. Chief Larry Satterwhite and prosecutor Sean Teare each maintained that the officers were en route to a "volatile" call.

 

"The officers were responding to a violent felony," Teare said. "That's something we're going to take into account. We're looking at all of this. This is not a normal crash. A normal crash in situations like this would probably constitute different charges than we're even going to think about in this case."

 

A grand jury will decide if the officers are charged. That process could take weeks, Teare said. He did not explain on potential charges.

 

The late Jackson's car broke down a few months ago, forcing him to walk nearly everywhere, take the bus, or catch occasional rides to work from his brother.

 

"He was always making jokes," Timothy said of his brother. "He was real sociable like that. He liked to try to sing a little bit. He was proud of a lot of people he's met, musicians and so forth. He knew B.B. King. That's who he was. He was a happy person."

 

HPD has not yet returned a request made Wednesday for department data that shows how many officers have been involved in collisions that left someone dead or seriously injured. In 2019, another HPD officer crashed into a pedestrian during a pursuit. The victim in that case was hospitalized.

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