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Deputy gets license suspension, 40 hours commmunity service for role in accident

A Dakota County Sheriff's deputy will serve 40 hours of community service and have his driver's license suspended one year for his role in the Aug. 30 accident that killed Farmington resident Bill Wallace.

Joshua James Williams will also pay a $380 fine after being sentenced Tuesday in a Scott County courtroom.

Williams will spend his community service time speaking to new drivers and law enforcement training programs about the importance of being attentive while driving. Williams was in the final week of his own field officer's training program when he was responding to a call and made a U-turn on Highway 3 to find the correct address. He turned in front of Wallace, who was on a motorcycle.

Bonnie Pitsenburger, Wallace's sister, was not surprised by the decision. Williams was convicted of careless driving, a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 90 days and a maximum fine of $1,000. But Pitsenburger said she was still disappointed with the penalty.

"I know people that have done much less than what he did and got much more community service than that," Pitsenburger said. "I feel a little short-changed in the way our system is set up."

Pitsenburger believes Williams' role as a law enforcement officer should hold him up for stiffer punishment than what he received.

"(The sentence) is not even close to what the standard could have been. What I feel it should have been," Pitsenburger said. "We all have to be accountable for our actions, and honestly, I don't think 40 hours cuts it.

"I think he should have been held up more as an example."

Pitsenburger lives just three blocks from the corner of Highway 3 and 200th Street, where the accident happened. Wallace was on his way to her house to watch a Minnesota Vikings pre-season game when Williams turned in front of him.

"I have to go by that on a daily basis. My husband has to go by that on a daily basis," Pitsenburger said. "As far as I'm concerned he got a slap on the wrist and we got slapped in the face."

Internal investigation

The Dakota County Sheriff's department has been waiting for the court case against Williams to be resolved before beginning its own investigation. Now that Williams has been sentenced, chief deputy Dave Bellows expects the department to look into whether Williams violated any department policies and whether he should be disciplined for his actions.

"Frankly, you look at the entire incident and you look at anything and everything as it applies to the incident," Bellows said. "You're always looking at what is the appropriate discipline in the matter."

Williams has been assigned to court security since the accident.

Bellows hopes to have the department's investigation wrapped up within two weeks.