Family wants answers after woman killed by Dallas police car

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on January 22, 2012 at 11:12 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 22 at 11:40 PM

Pedestrian killed

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DALLAS — A pedestrian was struck and killed by a Dallas police squad car early Sunday morning as she tried to cross the street.

Investigators said the officer was following an ambulance to a disturbance call on Oak Branch Lane around 3 a.m. when he hit Beverly Kirk, 43, in the 9900 block of Bruton Road.

Kirk was pronounced dead at the scene. Although police said the ambulance was blaring its lights and sirens, the patrol car did not — and that fact troubles Kirk’s family.

"Anybody with common sense, they know if they hear sirens, they’re supposed to stop and let police or paramedics pass by," said Reginald Kirk, the victim’s older brother.

Kirk, who was a grandmother to a four-year-old boy, had been staying with her daughter in an apartment nearby. Her family admits Kirk led a difficult life, but they don’t know why she was trying to cross the street that time of night.

“I know for a fact that she’s not going to just walk in front of a moving car,” Reginald Kirk said. “I just can’t understand why he wasn’t able to see her."

Dallas police said the officer, whose name was not released, behaved correctly in not using his lights and sirens.

"The officer did not have his lights and sirens activated because it is not required for this particular call assignment," Dallas police said in an official statement. Police are not revealing the officer's speed.

The sound of the impact rattled several neighbors. Debra Daniels was asleep in her apartment when she heard breaking glass.

“I thought it was two vehicles hitting each other,” she said. “It sounded violent.”

Yvette Davis was awake with her fussy 10-year-old godchild inside her home when she heard the crash just a few feet away.

“I heard no sirens,” she said, “I heard no tire screeching, no anything.”

Several neighbors reported hearing the impact, but there was no indication the officer tried to stop abruptly. There are no tire marks on the street. It's unclear whether the officer saw Kirk before she was struck.

“I’m wondering, ‘What was he doing?’" said her brother, Kenneth Kirk. "We want answers."

In 2008, Cpl. Michael Vaughn, a five-year veteran, was going at least 69 mph on a residential street when he struck and killed 10-year-old Cole Berardi on his bicycle in southeast Dallas.

Cpl. Vaughn was going at least 30 mph above the posted speed limit without his lights and sirens on.

That incident prompted the Dallas Police Department to tighten the department’s speed policy to make it among the strictest in the country.

Dallas officers are not allowed to break traffic laws unless their lights and sirens are on. Even then, they can only drive 20 mph above the speed limit in most cases.

State law gives officers more latitude to break traffic laws, and Cpl. Vaughn was later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing. He was given a one-day suspension during a police disciplinary hearing.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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