Statements of witnesses verified in LMPD crash report

Sarah Bearden (Source: Bearden crash memorial)
Sarah Bearden (Source: Bearden crash memorial)
Vanessa Melton
Vanessa Melton
John Robinson (L) and Chad Gardner
John Robinson (L) and Chad Gardner

By Dawne Gee - bio | email 
Posted by Charles Gazaway - email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It was a crash that killed a Louisville woman and put the actions of a Metro Police officer under the microscope. Now, we have new details from the just-released report. Late on the night of May 22, 2010, police say 22-year old Sarah Marie Bearden turned left from Hurstbourne Parkway onto Headley Hill Road when off-duty officer James Adams slammed into her car. The LMPD crash report backs up what witnesses told us seven months ago.

"He was going too fast," said Vanessa Melton, "he was swerving."

Those words given to WAVE 3 by Melton, a witness to the crash, have now been substantiated by a report released Dec. 28 by the LMPD Public Integrity Unit. In that 450 page case file on the investigation, the report finds Adams was going over 80 miles-per-hour in a 45 mile-per-hour zone.

"We learned about the report from you guys. You guys in the media," said Chad Gardner, one of the Bearden family attorneys. "The family learned about it through the media. We have requested it. We have been turned down to receive it. It's frustrating."

Also noted in the report was that the 22-year-old Bearden had been drinking that night. Her blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit at .131.

"I don't condone, the Beardens don't condone any kind of drinking and driving," Gardner said. "Don't drink and drive, especially since we go into this time of year. But, we don't believe alcohol is what killed this young girl. Speed is what killed this young girl."

Gardner questions why no one has made Adams answer for his speed, or looked into how it contributed to the death of Bearden. But some say Adams was slow that night in getting help for Bearden.

"He was assessing the damage and he was on his cell phone and I yelled and asked if anyone had called 9-1-1 and he said no," said Melton. "The man didn't call 9-1-1, he swerved and almost hit us and then ended up killing a woman."

According to statements from Adams, he called his partner and instructed him to call 9-1-1 while he radioed in the crash on the police radio in his car. The report also says one witness stated to investigators that Adams told him he was calling police.

"Hopefully we can turn the corner and we can have our opportunity to review the circumstances and review the evidence," said John Robinson, another of the Bearden family attorneys. "We've been patient and it's our turn to look at the evidence."

In November, a Jefferson County grand jury did not indict Adams on any charges related to the crash. The Bearden family attorneys say they plan to file a civil suit against Adams within the next few weeks.

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