Prince George’s County police are reviewing an investigation policy after a man who allegedly stole a car and initiated a police chase that led to two traffic fatalities was arrested four days later.
Ronald Jerome Hayes Jr., 18, of Washington, D.C., was arrested Dec. 11 by Prince George’s County police in alleged connection to the Dec. 7 crash in Capitol Heights that killed Brittney Everett, 23, of Washington, D.C., and Brittney Queen, 21, of Capitol Heights, said county police spokesman Lt. William Alexander.
Hayes allegedly was driving a stolen vehicle and initiated a police chase moments before slamming into Everett and Queen’s van, according to Alexander.
Hayes was transported to a District hospital where he was treated for injuries and released, Alexander said. County police could have asked District police to arrest and hold Hayes, but decided not to do so because fatal crash investigation protocol dictated police wait, Alexander said.
The protocol is in place to ensure police appropriately apply criminal charges in traffic death cases because someone who gets minor traffic charges and pays those fines, therefore closing the case, can’t be charged for higher crimes such as manslaughter later, said John Erzen, Prince George’s state’s attorney office spokesman. Once the case is closed charging them again would be double jeopardy, Erzen said.
Four days later, Hayes was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter, negligent manslaughter and theft among other traffic violations, according to court records. He is currently being held on $2 million bond at the county Department of Corrections, according to police reports. His lawyer, Christopher Griffiths, did not return phone calls for comment.
The incident alerted police to a potential gap in the fatal crash investigation protocol and Police Chief Mark Magaw is reviewing the policy to ensure charges connected to fatal crashes can be filed as quickly as possible, Alexander said.
Fatal car crash investigations are immediately handed over to the county police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Unit, which investigates the case and works with the State’s Attorney Office to determine if criminal charges should be filed, Alexander said.