Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman has fired one of his deputies after the officer failed to tell supervisors of his or her involvement in a fatal accident on Saturday night.
“As a result of our investigation, the deputy has been terminated,” Herman wrote in a news release. His office has declined to identify the deputy.
In the release, Herman said a deputy had chased a car driven by two teen girls in Cypress around 10 p.m. that evening. The car, a Volkswagen Jetta, crashed on a resident stretch of Queenslake Drive. The driver, Jenna Ellsmore, spun out, flipped and smashed into a concrete culvert.
Ellsmore was taken by helicopter in critical condition to Memorial Hermann Hospital. Her passenger, Lily Haugen, died at the scene.
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The Harris County Sheriff’s Office reported Haugen's death on Sunday. In a news release, it said Ellsmore crashed because she “was driving at a high rate of speed and missed negotiated [sic?] a curve in the roadway.” The release did not say a deputy was involved in the accident. And the 911 call about the accident was made not by a police officer, but a passing motorist, the Houston Chronicle reported.
It seemed like a relatively typical, albeit tragic, car crash — that is, until Harris County Constable Precinct 4 sent out its own statement.
That news release raises big questions about how that fatal crash occurred. It says a deputy had “attempted a traffic stop on the vehicle" before it spun out and flipped. To make matters worse, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office only discovered the connection when a sergeant watched video of the traffic incident and realized it “may be related to a fatality accident to that occurred in the same area," according to the release.
It could be a while before the public knows exactly what happened. “Due to the ongoing investigation, we will be unable to make any further statements at this time,” the Precinct 4 Constable’s Office said. Constable Herman was unavailable for comment.