Historic landmark damaged in police vehicle accident
Published 1:04 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Officials with the Demopolis Police Department have confirmed that a patrol officer fell asleep at the wheel leading to an accident that damaged a downtown Demopolis historic landmark.
According to information released by the DPD, the officer lost control of the squad car on Saturday, July 16, at approximately 3:30 a.m., at the intersection of Capital and Main streets, leading to extensive damage of a Confederate Memorial and the vehicle. The officer was not injured.
On Sunday, department officials released a statement that an internal investigation into the incident was completed and found that it was an accident.
“This was an accident and was not an intentional act. It was just an accident,” said DPD Chief Tommie Reese. “I am glad the officer wasn’t injured or killed because we can’t replace a life, but a monument can be repaired or replaced.”
The officer was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation, which Reese said is standard procedure for officer-involved accidents. Following the accident, the officer was taken to the Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital emergency room for treatment and a drug screen.
The patrol car involved is a total loss.
Meanwhile city officials are considering options for the future of the memorial, according to Mayor Mike Grayson.
“The statue is an iconic landmark in Demopolis that I’ve been told was erected in either 1910 or 1914. We will not abandon the site. We intend to restore a monument there. The conversation will center on how we want to do that. The only part of the statue beyond repair is the rifle, but the soldier is mostly intact. Whatever decisions we come to will be made on a local basis and not by way of outside influences,” Grayson said.
The mayor also said the statue is insured.
“It was an unfortunate accident and there is no reason to suggest it was anything other than an accident,” he said.
Word of the incident spread quickly Saturday morning through Demopolis, especially on social media where some speculated on what happened.
“I was reading the comments being made on social media, but (the department) had to make sure that a complete and thorough investigation was done before making a statement,” Reese said.
The investigation into the accident has been closed and Reese said it is time to move forward through positive dialog.
“At this time in our nation, with the events we’ve seen across the country, people are quick to jump to conclusions and say things. Demopolis has long been a community where we’ve all gotten along and we expect that to continue,” Reese said.