Prosecutors have determined no charges will be filed against a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was involved in a crash that claimed the lives of two young brothers, and severely injured their mother, as the family was walking home from school last year.
While investigators determined the deadly Nov. 16 crash at Indiana Street and Whittier Boulevard in Boyle Heights was caused by the deputy at the wheel of a patrol SUV failing to activate her siren, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office concluded the crash was a “horrific accident” and did not amount to a criminal act.
“We find insufficient evidence to prove that Deputy Carrie Robles-Placencia committed the crime of vehicular manslaughter,” according to a report released by the district attorney’s office on Monday. “As such, we decline to initiate criminal proceedings against her. We are closing our file and will take no further action in this matter.”
Robles-Placencia was a three-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department who was undergoing training for a patrol assignment at the time of the crash. Her training officer was an 11-year veteran of the LASD.
Robles-Placencia was driving a marked, 2015 Ford Explorer when the deputies received a radio call shortly before 7:20 p.m. reporting an assault with a firearm had just occurred within two miles of their location, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
As she responded to the call, the deputy headed south on Indiana Street, according to the report. About 80 feet before reaching the intersection of Whittier Boulevard, she activated the emergency lights on top of the SUV, but failed to turn on the vehicle’s siren. She brought the SUV to a stop before proceeding through the intersection at 14 mph.
An MTA bus that was eastbound in the No. 1 lane apparently saw the patrol SUV and came to a stop as the SUV approached the intersection, prosecutors said. But as the sheriff’s vehicle continued through the intersection, it collided with an eastbound Honda Accord that was traveling in the No. 2 lane.
The impact sent the sheriff’s SUV careening toward the sidewalk. It grazed a pedestrian in crosswalk before jumping the curb, striking the mother and two boys and hitting the side of a bank, authorities said. Another pedestrian was struck by a cement trash can that was dislodged in the crash.
Jose Luis Hernandez, 7, died from his injuries at the scene. His brother, 9-year-old Marcos Hernandez, succumbed to his injuries at a hospital.
Their mother suffered injuries including a crushed pelvis and other broken bones, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators found Robles-Placencia was at fault in the collision.
“The traffic investigation ascribed the cause of the incident to Robles entering the intersection on a red light without due regard for the safety of all persons on the highway,” the report said. “Although emergency lights were illuminated prior to entering the intersection, no siren was sounded to cause vehicular and pedestrian traffic to yield the right-of-way. This resulted in the collision with the Accord and the subsequent collisions thereafter.”
But the collision resulted from a “mistake of judgment,” prosecutors found in their report. Under California law, “the defendant is not guilty if she acted, or failed to act, accidentally, without criminal negligence.”
Monday’s announcement by county prosecutors ends any criminal proceedings against the deputy, but the family has also filed a civil wrongful death suit against the Sheriff’s Department.