Officer indicted in 2018 South Fulton crash that killed 3, injured 3

Credit: POST

Credit: POST

Deonte Walker is now employed by the Douglas County school system

A metro Atlanta police officer has been indicted in a crash that killed three people and injured three others, according to the Fulton County district attorney.

Deonte Rashad Walker was indicted on nine charges, including three counts each of first-degree vehicular homicide and involuntary manslaughter, the indictment states. Walker, who lives in College Park, was also indicted on two charges of serious injury by vehicle and violating his oath of office.

On Nov. 11, 2018, Walker, then 25, was employed by the South Fulton Police Department when he pursued a stolen Mercedes-Benz on Ga. 138, the Georgia State Patrol previously said. When Walker’s patrol car approached I-85, it collided with a work van attempting to make a left turn onto Ga. 138, according to investigators.

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“The patrol vehicle struck the left side of the van, causing it to overturn onto its top and catch fire,” a GSP spokesman said in a statement. “The patrol vehicle also caught on fire and was burned severely.”

Three people in the van were dead at the scene. One man was identified as Clemente Flores, but the other two men killed were not named in the indictment. After the crash, investigators said the unidentified men lived out of the country and their families would have to provide DNA samples to the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s Office to make the identifications.

GSP’s initial report identifies them as Flores, 22, Marcus Martin, 22, and Camerino Sanchez-Hernandez, 20. Two other men were seriously injured in the crash.

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The driver of the van, Gilmer Gomez-Lopez, 25, of Atlanta, spoke with investigators after the crash, GSP said. He was treated and released from Grady Memorial Hospital.

According to the indictment, Walker caused the crash “by operating a motor vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property, by driving at a speed greater than was reasonable and prudent under then-existing conditions, failing to obey a red traffic signal and failing to have due regard for actual and potential hazards.”

The South Fulton officer told GSP investigators he had his lights and siren on, but Gomez-Lopez, a Columbus resident, said he didn’t see lights or hear a siren.

The crash prompted South Fulton police to change the department’s policy on chases. A month after the crash, Chief Keith Meadows said officers would no longer be allowed to chase stolen vehicles simply because they are stolen. Officers will instead need another justification to explain why the fleeing person poses more danger to the public than a high-speed pursuit would.

In June 2020, Walker resigned from the department, according to his employment records with the Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council, known as POST. Since July 2020, he has been employed by the Douglas County school system, his POST record states.