Chief Identifies Gulfport Officer Involved In Three-Car Collision - - The News for South Mississippi

Chief Identifies Gulfport Officer Involved In Three-Car Collision

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- Smashed windows, crushed steel, and warped wheels. The Gulfport Police car looked like a mangled mess, after it crashed into another vehicle on Highway 49 around 10:33 PM Thursday.

Officer Bryan Watson suffered minor injuries.

"Fortunately, when you look at his vehicle, it's amazing he wasn't more injured than what he was," said Leonard Papania.

Papania is the Commander of Operations for the Gulfport Police Department. He says the wreck happened when the officer was responding to a call to back-up another officer.

When WLOX-News asked Papania: "So he did not have blue lights on?" he responded "That's correct."

Papania says officer Watson's cruiser hit the front passenger side of a Lincoln Town Car, injuring the woman driving.

"We know the primary issue here is the officer entered the intersection on a red light, failing to yield the right of way," said Papania." And the secondary concern is what was the speed he was traveling at when it occurred?"

After the initial crash at the intersection, the police cruiser spun around, hit a telephone pole, and ended up in the parking lot of the Sonic Drive In. Police say the cruiser hit a brand new Mazda that was parked there. The driver was not hurt.

"In a police vehicle, if you're going through an intersection, when there's traffic present, and you're going to bypass whatever lighting there is on it, you have to have your blue lights on," Papania said. "You still have to exercise due regard, because even though your blue lights are on, a driver may not see it, may not hear it. So it's our responsibility to ensure that we proceed cautiously."

Gulfport Police are conducting two investigations: One to determine what happened and who's at fault, and the other to find out if Officer Watson violated any department policies.

Officer Watson is a patrol officer, he has been on the Gulfport Police force for almost two years, and he remains on duty.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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