Officer David Cauthron, 42, was taken into custody on Sunday around 9:45 p.m. after he killed two cheerleaders when his cruiser crashed into their vehicle on a high-speed chase in pursuit of a suspect in a home invasion in Louisiana on New Year’s Eve.
The victims were 17-year-old Maggie Dunn and 16-year-old Caroline Gill. The third victim is Dunn’s brother, Liam Dunn, who suffered a critical injury.
Tony Clayton, the Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney, announced that Cauthron would be charged with negligent homicide and one count of negligent injury. Cauthron was detained in West Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a bond of $100,000.
Clayton said Addis Police chief Richard Anderson informed him that the officer would be on administrative leave. Clayton also intends to call a grand jury to investigate the officer’s activities at the end of the month.
According to the report, Cauthron has only recently joined the police force. He had previously worked for Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The attorney said that he questioned the police’s decision to chase the thief at a high rate of speed but agreed with Cauthron’s arrest.
Clayton also said that authorities would assure the public that they would adhere to the facts. “I’m a strong supporter of police officers, but sometimes there are bad decisions that are made,” he commented. “This was a horrible decision.”
Clayton asserted that it is unacceptable that these young teens could not begin the New Year. He said he couldn’t understand why Cauthron was pursuing this vehicle at that “rate of speed.”
“If it involves putting human life in danger, stop the damn pursuit,” Clayton said.
During the chase, Cauthron’s vehicle was moving at about 86 miles per hour. The witnesses said that Cauthron crashed into the victims’ car around midday after failing to stop for a red light as his police vehicle approached the intersection.
According to the report, Cauthron did not hit the brakes before colliding with the girls’ car.
BREAKING: A police officer who reportedly crashed into another car during a high-speed pursuit, killing two innocent high schoolers, is now facing charges in the deadly crash, officials tell WBRZ.https://t.co/kqVKhIc8lg pic.twitter.com/gBwmMZm8JH
— WBRZ News (@WBRZ) January 2, 2023
Car thief on the run
Before the fatal crash, Cauthron was chasing Tyquel Zanders, who allegedly broke into a home in Baton Rouge. The 24-year-old seized the keys and fled with the stolen car.
Documents from the arrest show that officers attempted to pull Zanders over while he was in Baton Rouge. When Zanders refused to stop his stolen vehicle, he was pursued by police.
However, when he crossed the bridge over the Mississippi River, the local police gave up the chase — that’s when Cauthron decided to chase after Zanders.
Zanders violated red lights and hit speeds of 110 mph during the pursuit across many parishes, Louisiana’s equivalent of counties, as per police reports.
He’s responsible for all the reactions to his actions. He’s facing two counts, and if that poor kid doesn’t survive, he’ll face another.
Tony Clayton, the Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney
Police officers attempted to pursue the suspect on LA 1 in front of the JW Food Mart at 561 N. Vaughn Drive in Brusly at the time of the collision.
Zanders, however, kept going and returned to Baton Rouge by way of the Mississippi River Bridge. His car was forced to stop at the Dalrymple exit and he was taken into custody.
Zanders will face charges for two counts of manslaughter, breaking and entering, car theft and aggravated fleeing, according to the police.
Clayton said he attributed the Zanders’ involvement in the collision to putting the sequence of events into action. According to him, all of the responses to his acts are his fault and if Maggie’s brother doesn’t live, he is set to face another charge.
The officials said Zanders had been registered in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison and Clayton asserted that he might spend “well over 100 years in prison,” facing full prosecution.
Tribute to Dunn, Gill
Both victims attended Brusly High School, where Dunn was a junior and Gill was a sophomore. According to sources, the teens were on their way to a store just minutes away before the accident.
In response to the girls’ deaths, the school’s cheerleading squad posted a statement on Facebook. They said that as they mourn both girls’ tragic deaths, they asked that everyone remember “their families, friends, and the BHS community in their thoughts and prayers.”
A memorial service for Dunn and Gill was scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday at the Brusly High School football field.