published Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Former Memphis police officer pleads guilty in fatal crash

MEMPHIS — A former Memphis police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to vehicular homicide charges in a high-speed crash that killed two people from north Mississippi.

Alex Beard was sentenced to six months in jail after he entered his guilty plea in Criminal Court in Memphis. He is scheduled to start his sentence Sept. 17.

Beard had been facing up to six years in prison if convicted at trial. Police records show Beard was driving 94 miles per hour on a Memphis street in his squad car, without his sirens or lights in operation, seconds before striking another car.

The crash killed 53-year-old Delores Epps and her daughter, 13-year-old Mackala Ross, both of Senatobia, Miss.

Some of the victims’ relatives had pushed for a trial. Michael Ross, who was the girl’s father and Epps’ fianci, expressed frustration at the plea deal and sentence. He was seriously injured in the crash.

“This man done killed my whole entire family and destroyed me, got my eyesight messed up,” Ross told WMC-TV outside the courtroom. “I’m ruined for life.”

Prosecutor Billy Bond said victims’ relatives were informed about the deal ahead of Tuesday’s court hearing.

“If we went to trial, I had no expectation that it would have come out any better” than the six-month sentence, Bond said.

Beard pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide with reckless conduct, and aggravated assault. He was fired from Memphis Police Department in February.

Critics of the department pointed to the crash as an example of a lack of discipline among officers. Beard is one of about 25 Memphis officers to be arrested on or convicted of charges related to police misconduct since January 2012.

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