Dallas police: one-day suspension for officer who fatally struck child with squad car

A Dallas police officer who fatally struck a child last October received a one-day suspension during a disciplinary hearing this afternoon.

Senior Cpl. Michael Vaughn appeared before Assistant Chief Floyd Simpson, who oversees the city’s seven patrol stations.

The punishment was for “for violating the emergency vehicle operations policy when he drove over the speed limit without activating the lights and sirens,” police officials said.

On October 17, Vaughn was racing from one call to another when his squad car fatally struck 10-year-old Cole Berardi, who was riding his bicycle on a darkened portion of Belt Line Road in southeast Dallas.

Cole (upper left) had asked his mother if he could ride his bike to a nearby store, where a friend worked. His mother told him no, and he snuck out while she was in the bathroom.

Cpl. Vaughn’s lights and siren were not activated as required.

The police accident report released lists speed as a contributing factor in the accident. It states that the speed of Cpl. Vaughn’s vehicle ranged from 69 mph to 72 mph at the time of impact. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 40 mph.

Vaughn was later cleared by a grand jury of any criminal culpability. But internal investigators have since concluded that he failed to the follow the department’s established procedures.

The death prompted Police Chief David Kunkle to issue new driving rules for officers.

Vaughn, who was hired in 2003, is currently working in the department’s Fusion Center.

Officers who know Vaughn say he is a solid, hard-working officer who has been deeply impacted by what happened that night.


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