A Frederick County, Maryland prosecutor has indicated that charges will not be filed against Trooper Dale Derr in the November, 2006 death of pedestrian Randy Rakes. This despite an internal State Police investigation, concluding that Trooper Derr, 23, was driving 83 miles per hour on the shoulder of the road before he hit the 38-year-old Rakes, who died at the scene.
Rakes’ family has filed a $15.8 million civil lawsuit against both Trooper Derr and the Maryland State Police. In a final attempt to spur a more detailed and thorough investigation, attorney David Ellin of Baltimore City, has sent a letter directly to the offices of Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, asking him to intervene in the case. Ellin noted that the statute of limitations for civil charges is about to expire because the accident happened nearly a year ago.
The accident occurred near Rakes’ Finksburg, Maryland home, but the case was turned over to Frederick County, Maryland prosecutors due to the policy of the Carroll County State’s Attorney’s Office not to handle cases involving Carroll County law enforcement officers.
Frederick County prosecutor Kirsten Brown told the Carroll County Times that a decision was made in May not to charge Derr because there wasn’t enough information to prove that the trooper’s speed caused the crash. Interestingly, the internal Maryland State Police investigation concluded that the crash likely could have been avoided if Derr had been driving closer to the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit.
The State Police are clearly protecting their own on this one. By way of additional information, young Trooper Derr wasn’t speeding on his way to an emergency call, or to a horrible traffic accident, or other time critical function. Rather, Derr told investigators that he had just finished his shift and was driving to his barracks (without lights or sirens activated) to drop off paperwork when the accident occurred. In other words, he was wrapping it up for the day, and headed home thereafter. 83 mph on a shoulder for this? Give me a break. The Rakes family, and the citizens of Maryland, deserve much better from ‘Maryland’s Finest’.