No charges filed in crash involving off-duty Algood officer, eld - WSMV News 4

No charges filed in crash involving off-duty Algood officer, elderly couple

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The crash happened in May 2017. (WSMV) The crash happened in May 2017. (WSMV)

No charges will be filed following a crash between an off-duty Algood police officer and an elderly couple.

Within seconds, James and Rena Cryer’s lives changed forever when they were hit by a police cruiser driven by Christopher Ferguson last May.

“I just said, ‘Help us be ready if this is it, Lord,’” Rena Cryer said.

Surveillance video shows James Cryer turning left onto a roadway in Smithville. Seconds after turning, a cruiser can be seen colliding with their SUV.

Upon impact, James Cryer was thrown from the vehicle. Amazingly, he and Rena survived.

After reviewing the video and an investigation conducted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol, District Attorney General Bryant Dunaway declined to pursue criminal charges against either driver.

“Both of them did things they shouldn’t have done, and both of them violated the law,” said Dunaway, who represents the 13th judicial district. “They violated the rules of the road.”

Cryer failed to yield, according to the THP. The investigative report, obtained by the News 4 I-Team, also found Ferguson was speeding.

Documents state at one point, Ferguson was traveling up to 26 miles over the speed limit.

“If the officer had been driving the posted speed limit…the collision would have been avoided,” an investigator wrote.

“Even with this knowledge, you still felt comfortable not prosecuting?” asked reporter Alanna Autler.

“Even with that knowledge, yes,” Dunaway replied.

Dunaway said Ferguson’s actions did not meet the definition of reckless driving, and both drivers only committed minor driving offenses that would have amounted to class B misdemeanors.

He said he also considered the fact eight months had passed since the crash occurred.

But a member of the NAACP sees it differently.

The state organization became involved after a citizen filed a complaint, concerned over whether a police officer was receiving special treatment.

“We have different standards for different people,” said Sheryl Allen, who leads the criminal justice committee within NAACP’s state branch.

Allen said the NAACP gets involved whenever it perceives any injustice involving anyone across the state.

Last month the I-Team delved into Ferguson’s driving history.

Records show while Ferguson worked for Cookeville Police Department, he damaged his patrol car while driving on black ice, changing lanes, hitting a stop sign and hitting a mail box.

After records reveal Ferguson hit a semi truck, the department recommended Ferguson be terminated or resign.

Ferguson resigned and joined the Algood Police Department in 2015.

“Why is he still allowed to drive? Why is he still allowed to work? If it was you or I, we’d be done, that’s it,” Allen said.

“Was Ferguson given special treatment because he was a police officer?” Autler asked.

“Absolutely not,” Dunaway replied. “I think Ferguson’s behavior in driving was inappropriate, he was certainly speeding, the evidence shows that. I think the Cryers failed to yield.”

Eight months later, Officer Ferguson is still on the job and the Cryers are still healing.

“I want justice done,” Rena Cryer said.

Ferguson received a verbal reprimand for this crash, according to Algood City Manager Keith Morrison.

The I-Team requested to interview Ferguson but did not hear back by deadline. A previous request was denied by Morrison.

Both drivers were interviewed at the scene, according to Lt. Bill Miller with the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  Phone records were not requested as part of the investigation.

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