A Sacramento police officer faces a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter stemming from a deadly October crash in which a motorcyclist slammed into a patrol vehicle making a U-turn without its emergency lights or siren on.
A Sacramento Superior Court judge on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for Officer Benjamin Jillson in connection with the death of 61-year-old motorcyclist Denzil Ollen Broadhurst, the Sacramento Police Department announced Thursday afternoon in a news release.
Police said the officer turned himself in at the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, where he was booked and released. Jillson has worked for the Police Department for more than two years. Police said Jillson has been placed on administrative leave and his peace officer powers suspended.
“The death of Mr. Broadhurst is a tragedy,” Sacramento Police Chief Kathy Lester said in a news release, “and my heart goes out to his friends and family on a devastating loss.”
The department on Thursday released video of the fatal crash, which occurred shortly after 8 pm Oct. 31 in the area of Bell Avenue and May Street in Sacramento’s Robla neighborhood. Police released an edited video with narration, body-worn camera video and video from a nearby security camera.
Dashboard camera did not capture the crash
Sgt. Zach Eaton, a Police Department spokesman, said in the video that the patrol vehicle’s dashboard camera did not capture the vehicle crash. The dashboard camera video was not released Thursday.
The nearby security camera video captured a portion of the crash as the motorcycle smashed into the patrol vehicle’s passenger-side rear door.
That October night, the officer was driving a marked police vehicle when he received a call of a reported kidnapping that had occurred within the previous 15 minutes a few miles south in the 900 block of Eleanor Avenue.
Jillson began driving to the location of the reported kidnapping and made a U-Turn in the patrol vehicle near Bell Avenue and May Street. The security camera shows Broadhurst, driving in the opposite direction down the residential street, crashing into the patrol vehicle as it made the U-turn.
Police said the patrol vehicle’s emergency lights and siren were not on when the crash occurred.
After the crash, the officer got out of his patrol vehicle and turned on his body-worn camera as he approached Broadhurst, who lay on the ground injured. Jillson radioed dispatchers, reporting the crash and asking for medics from the Sacramento Fire Department.
The body-camera video shows the officer asking Broadhurst to remain still as he tried to examine the motorcyclist for any apparent injuries.
“Sir? Sir, can you hear me,” the officer asked Broadhurst, who was wearing a helmet and clothing with reflective strips. “Sir, can you tell me your name?”
Broadhurst does not appear to respond to the officer’s questions in the video. He continues to remain motionless on the street. The officer then requests at least one more patrol unit to help close the road to traffic.
“Sir, stay with me, alright,” Jillson told the motorcyclist. “Can you blink? Can you blink your eyes?”
As the officer opened the motorcyclist’s jacket to look for injuries, a passerby walked up. Jillson asked the passerby if he saw what happened. The passerby said he did see what happened, so the officer asked them to stick around and wait to give a statement to other officers.
“I feel a pulse. We’ve got a pulse,” the officer said. “Just trying not to move him.”
Video shows damage to patrol car
At that moment, it appears that Jillson walked away from the injured motorcyclist and went to the patrol vehicle to turn on his emergency lights as sirens from other patrol vehicles could be heard approaching the crash site.
Two other officers arrived, and Jillson told them about the witness at the scene and the motorcyclist’s condition. The officers then told Jillson to wait in his patrol vehicle as they took over providing immediate care to Broadhurst.
The video shows Jillson walking over to the patrol vehicle, and the rear passenger-side door was smashed in from the impact of the crash.
Detectives from the department’s Major Collision Investigations Unit and crime scene investigators responded to the scene and began conducting an investigation.
Based on the investigation findings, the Police Department determined the facts supported a misdemeanor charge of vehicular manslaughter. The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the investigation and agreed with those findings.
An investigation by The Sacramento Bee published Oct. 29 revealed dangerous police chases were on the rise in California, especially in Sacramento. The investigation found that Sacramento police had the highest vehicle pursuit rate in the state.
In December, the Police Department announced a department wide Traffic Safety Stay initiative, which created a Safety Management Team tasked with reviewing data, training, best practices, policy, and department culture related to driving.
Police said officers and their managers continue to have conversations about traffic safety and trends, and the department asked the city’s Risk Management department for input on current police practices.