Inmate files suit against deputy involved in fatal accident

Published 4:23 am Wednesday, May 24, 2000

By By Sherry Digmon
Advance Staff Writer
An Escambia County (Ala.) sheriff's deputy under investigation for a fatal traffic accident is being sued in civil court in Baldwin County on a reckless endangerment complaint.
Patrick Charest filed the suit against Deputy Jeremy Dortch, citing an incident that occurred in April 1999.
At the time, Charest was, and remains, an inmate at Fountain Correctional Center in Atmore. Dortch was a correction officer with the Baldwin County Detention Center
According to the complaint, Charest claims that Dortch caused him to "fear for his life" by driving at excessive speeds while transporting him from Fountain to the Bay Minette Detention Center.
The suit alleges the speeds to be, at times, in excess of 100 mph in an non-emergency situation.
Dortch is currently under investigation for an accident that occurred in East Brewton May 15 in which two people were killed after the vehicle in which they were traveling was struck by the deputy's cruiser.
Charest claims that Dortch put him in the car, but did not secure him with a seatbelt. He further states that he was shackled and handcuffed to the waist as Dortch proceeded at speeds in excess of 95 mph in a 55 mph zone. This apparently took place on Highway 21 between Fountain and I-65.
Charest said when Dortch turned onto I-65, he drove in excess of 100 mph.
Charest claims he asked Dortch to slow down. On an inmate grievance form filed later the same day, Charest said Dortch told him that he "had a direct order by the Mobile federal judge to do so" because he [Dortch] was needed in federal court at 8 a.m.
Charest is claiming that while he did not suffer physical injury, he did suffer damage to his emotional and psychological state of mind.
The case was on the motion docket Monday in court in Bay Minette.
Dortch is currently on restrictive duty with the Escambia County Sheriff's Department following the accident last week.
The restriction is imposed by the sheriff's department.
Hawsey said he's sure the case will go to the grand jury, as any case of this nature would.
Dortch was answering a call last Monday evening when his car collided with a car driven by Marvin Gary Jackson. Jackson's passengers Kapriasha Jackson, 21, and James Jackson, 43, were killed in the accident.
Dortch had just accelerated one-tenth of a mile without turning on his emergency lights or sirens. The other car, with headlights off, according to the report, was pulling out of the Conoco Minute Stop and apparently pulled into the path of the deputy's car, Hawsey said. The sheriff said that Dortch was about to activate his warning lights and siren when the impact occurred. The deputy did apply his brakes and skidded several feet.
An officer with the Alabama Department of Public Safety has said last week the investigation should be completed within 45 days.

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