Tuesday, January 29, 2013
A local activist group is protesting the investigation done into a crash that killed a young girl in Wichita. 12 year-old Suhani Bhakta was hit and killed by a Wichita Police Officer last February near Harry and Broadway. Bhakta's family is now suing the city and the officer for negligence.
The questions the Occupy316 group raise involve the documents and the investigation done by the Kansas Highway Patrol. It was an independent investigation, which is common for police-involved incidents.
"If I've got officers coming to save me, I want them to get there quick," explains Occupy316 organizer Mike Shatz. "But I don't want them to hurt anybody else in the process."
The Occupy316 group has been a vocal critic of Wichita Police. In our public record request of the crash report into Suhani Bhakta's death, we received a generic report that doesn't say much other than bare minimum facts of the crash.
In a second report that Occupy316 obtained and provided to KAKE News, the investigating trooper says Officer Atlee Vogt was doing between 39 and 51 miles-per-hour in the 30 mile-per-hour zone. He was responding to a call without using his lights and siren. That, however, is not against department policy.
Occupy takes greater issue with Vogt's refusal to speak with the investigator after the crash.
"It seems like if you're not going to cooperate with an investigation into something, then you shouldn't be an officer," Shatz said. "We all know it was an accident, but they're not doing anything to ensure that another accident doesn't happen."
The difference between the public report and the private law enforcement report is concerning to Shatz, who believes the public has a right to know.
"I think it's absolutely ridiculous," Shatz said. "I think it shows that the purpose of these investigations is more to make sure that the officer and departments are protected rather than to bring justice or solve any problems they may have or to prevent these types of things from happening in the future."
The Wichita Police Department is not commenting on this report. however, Deputy Chief Terri Moses said any citizen has a 5th amendment right to not speak to police. According to Occupy316, that's questionable given Vogt's position as a police officer and whether or not he was at fault for the crash or not.