SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A former South Fulton Police officer who was involved in a deadly crash at the end of a chase nearly four years ago has now been indicted in that incident and faces charges ranging from first degree homicide by vehicle to involuntary manslaughter.
Police said at the time that then-Officer Deonte Walker was chasing a stolen Mercedes-Benz on Nov. 11, 2018, when he slammed into a white van carrying six people.
Both the patrol car and the van went up in flames. Three people inside that van were killed, while Walker was able to escape with the help of Corey Blalock, another officer in a separate car.
The driver of the van, Gilmar Gomez Lopez, said he didn't see or hear the lights and sirens of the patrol car at the time of the accident. Walker said he had them on, while one of the surviving victims of the crash, Menfil Martin, said he heard the sirens but didn't see the lights.
An indictment from a Fulton County grand jury issued last week charges Walker with causing the three deaths "by operating a motor vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property, by driving at a speed greater than was reasonable and prudent under then-existing conditions, failing to obey a red traffic signal and failing to have due regard for actual and potential hazards."
The involuntary manslaughter charge also describes his driving as a "gross deviation from the standard of care which a reasonable person would exercise in the situation."
Walker's full charges include three counts of first degree homicide by vehicle, three counts of involuntary manslaughter, two counts of serious injury by vehicle and one count of violation of oath by a public officer - nine in all.
The victims are described in the indictment as Clemente Flores and two unnamed men.
South Fulton Police Chief Keith Meadows said four years ago Georgia State Patrol was investigating whether Walker had both his sirens and lights on during the chase - the outcome of that investigation was never publicly announced.
"It's a very difficult situation for everyone involved, and we want to make sure that we recognize that, not just for Officer Walker, but for those people that were in that van the night that the incident occurred," Meadows said.