North Knox County, TN - Trooper Charles Van Morgan has been terminated, after an incident in which, according to his his supervisor, Van Morgan knowingly passed the scene of a crash of a vehicle he had been pursuing that resulted in the driver’s death. Dashcam video and Van Morgan’s statements and actions after the crash contributed to the case against him.
In November 2011, Van Morgan was in pursuit of Kyle Anito, 20, for speeding. The dashcam video shows the high speed chase in which Anito progressively gains distance on Trooper Van Morgan. About one minute and 20 seconds into the released dashcam video, Van Morgan is seen rounding a corner and passing by a plume of smoke from the burning wreckage of a car that had crashed into a tree. At this instant, Van Morgan slows his car from 51mph to 21ph. He then re-accelerates, radios that he is terminating the pursuit, and pulls off on the side of the road about 1/2 mile up.
Procedure dictates that a trooper remain on the side of the road for at least one minute before shutting off a dashcam. Van Morgan does. During this time, Van Morgan suggests that he may double back to look for his speeder ‘in case he crashed.’ Before he does this – at approximately five minutes in to the dashcam video – a radio call notifies Van Morgan of a crash nearby that ‘might be his speeder.’
Van Morgan returns to the scene about one minute later. Before exiting the vehicle he radios that ‘someone is in the car and he can’t get to him.’ He then approaches the vehicle while discharging a fire extinguisher into the air. His supervisor described the fire extinguisher work at the car as “haphazard.” It seemed to me to be more of a Mayan sacrifice of CO2 to the heavens. Regardless, the attempt was unsuccessful.
A letter recommending his termination written by Colonel T.G. Trott, the commander of the THP, describes Van Morgan telling other members of the force that he was “just trying to put on a show” with his use of the fire extinguisher. Van Morgan also told the hearing officer that he saw the car when first passing it during the pursuit, but thought that it was parked at the tree.
Nobody is quite sure why Van Morgan would have deliberately ignored the crash. Trott said that he had no problem with the pursuit – only the aftermath. But, Van Morgan had been involved in a previous pursuit resulting in death. He also had 13 reprimands in the last 4 years. Or, maybe it was the paperwork…
Van Morgan was terminated earlier this week after an unsuccessful appeal. He has vowed a second appeal. It has also been reported that Van Morgan has been named in a $10 million lawsuit filed by Anito’s parents.
…and, as icing on the cake, Tennessee authorities have dropped over 100 cases in which Van Morgan was the arresting officer – because Van Morgan is no longer seen as a credible witness. Defendants such as Justin Ryan Kinard, 37, who faced a charge of vehicular assault on a child will walk free.
So, students of human behavior, what was he thinking?Tags: Charles Van Morgan, Chase, crash, dashcam video, Kyle Anito, Tennessee, trooper