GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island police officer nearly broke down in tears Tuesday as he deflected blame for a deadly accident he caused.
Now, he’s fighting to keep his driver’s license and the family of the grandmother who was killed is infuriated.
Arriving for a DMV hearing, Nassau County Officer Ernie Thompson refused comment, but inside his hands shook and his eyes filled with tears as he recalled the night his patrol car fatally struck 64-year-old Sherry Lang, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
The victim’s sons, Brent and Josh Lang, sat 10 feet away as Thompson testified.
“He did become very emotional and nervous. I’m not glad he was upset, but I was glad to see there was some feeling on his end,” Brent Lang said.
Officer Thompson was on night patrol in a torrential downpour a little more than a year ago when he ran over Sherry Lang as she crossed Merrick Road, CBS 2’s Aiello reported.
The night of the accident Officer Thompson told investigators he thought he was doing about the speed limit, 35 mph. He later estimated he was doing closer to 45 mph. In fact, he was doing almost 55 mph.
His excess speed was captured by a data recorder inside his patrol car.
“I don’t think he was aiming to kill anyone that night, but you gotta take responsibility for your actions. You can’t be going that fast,” the victim’s son, Josh, said.
Thompson testified “I never saw the victim. If I had, I would have put the car through a building before I hit someone.”
He also said he didn’t have time to hit the brakes, but an accident expert working for the Lang family said the data recorder contradicts the cop.
“We know that he brakes hard, a decrease of his speed by 10 percent the moment just before the accident. Once again, he was less than truthful and it’s outrageous,” said accident reconstruction expert Michael Archer.
The family was also outraged when Thompson’s county-funded attorney deflected blame onto Sherry Lang, who had been drinking the night she was killed.
The cop will find out this summer if his actions that night will cost him his driver’s license.
The officer was not ticketed or charged but does face an Internal Affairs probe. The Lang family has filed a wrongful-death suit.
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