Officer Jerald Ard was found innocent of committing a crime in the fatal car accident that killed Pensacola teen Victor Steen last October. The ruling came several weeks after passionate testimony on both sides painted Ard as both a fine police officer and, alternately, reckless cowboy.
Ard initially intended to stop Steen after he saw a shadowy figure lurking around some construction equipment abandoned for the night. When Steen fled on his bike, Ard noticed that the young man lacked proper nighttime lighting on his bike and decided to make a traffic stop.
But Steen fled, cutting across lots and changing direction frequently. When demands to stop were ignored, Ard pulled up alongside Steen and attempted to stun him with a taser. In the dash cam video of the incident, the taser appears to miss and Steen continues to flee.
The fatal car accident occurred when Steen lost control of his bike while trying to mount a curb. He flew forward, directly into the path of Officer Ard’s patrol car. Ard claimed to have believed Steen had cleared the curb and was preparing to follow him into the parking lot. Instead, as he spun the car around, he found Steen directly before him.
The car crushed Victor Steen, dragging him for close to 30 feet before Ard was able to stop.
The Pensacola car accident lawyer representing the Steens said that, regardless of whether or not Officer Ard had committed a crime, it was an accident that should not have happened. He also accused Ard of reckless behavior in firing his taser from the moving vehicle at a fleeing suspect.
The Steen family has already announced plans to file a civil lawsuit against Officer Ard, the police department and the city of Pensacola.
- Judge: No Crime in Victor Steen’s Death (Fox 10 TV)