Updated: Sheriff's deputy will be charged for his role in an accident that killed a Farmington motorcyclist
A Dakota County Sheriff's deputy will face a careless driving charge for his role in the Aug. 30 accident that killed Farmington resident Bill Wallace.
The Hennepin County Attorney's office, which handled the charges to avoid any conflict of interest that might have existed in Dakota County, filed the charge last week.
Deputy Joshua James Williams, 29, was driving southbound in a bypass lane on Highway 3 when he tried to make a U-turn at 200th Street and turned in front of 58-year-old Bill Wallace. Wallace was on his way to his sister's house to watch a Minnesota Vikings pre-season game.
Williams and deputy Dan Michener were responding to a domestic abuse complaint at the time of the accident and were reportedly having trouble finding the address.
Williams was in the final phase of a field training program at the time of the accident.
Wallace, who was on a motorcycle at the time of the accident, was taken by helicopter to Regions hospital with multiple broken bones and later died.
Video from the squad car Williams was driving shows the deputy making one U-turn to head south on Highway 3 prior to the accident, then pulling into the bypass lane to make a second U-turn after realizing the address in question was farther north.
Bonnie Pitsenburger, Wallace's sister, was unhappy the charges against Williams were not more serious.
"I guess you could say I'm shocked," she said. "You would think that police officers are held at a lot higher standard, along with our doctors and nurses, moreso than you or I," Pitsenburger said. "You would think that the training they go through is much more extensive than the driving training that we take ... so it kind of surprises me that he would do such a move that we ourselves would flunk our driver's test for.
"He just turned. No warning to anyone that he was going to do what he did. And it cost somebody that we love dearly."
Pitsenburger said she didn't want Williams to go to prison for his actions but said she wanted him "held accountable" for his actions.
"I don't believe a careless driving (charge) serves that," she said. "He needs to go through some extensive debriefing and retraining to check his emotions at the door. Anybody that gets into a squad car and is taking a call and finds himself in a situation like he was in and gets so frazzled that he puts others at risk ... then he shouldn't be driving a squad car."
Williams was placed on administrative leave for a short time after the accident and has since been reassigned to provide court security as a bailiff. Chief deputy Dave Bellows said the sheriff's department will wait until Williams' court cases is resolved before conducting its own investigation into whether Williams violated department policy.
Williams is scheduled to make his first appearance in a Dakota County courtroom at 9 a.m. Feb. 20. If convicted of careless driving he could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.