PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A Portsmouth police officer has been charged with reckless driving, following a deadly crash in May.
Court documents show a grand jury indicted Officer William Watts in August with the misdemeanor charge.
Portsmouth police said a police cruiser struck and killed 59-year-old Sanasge Weera, a pedestrian, at the intersection of Portsmouth Boulevard and Woodstock Street.
Police estimated Watts was driving approximately 35 mph at the point of impact, according to an autopsy report. Watts told investigators he never saw Weera, that he was not on the phone at the time, and did not believe he was going “excessively fast,” court documents said.
Police spokeswoman Detective Misty Holley said the officer was not responding to a call and his vehicle’s lights and siren were not activated, at the time of the crash.
Family members told WAVY.com the victim was from Sri Lanka and that he was walking home from the nearby laundromat when he was hit. According to a worker at the 7 Cities Food and Deli, Weera was a cook there for 20 years.
Marcus Adams said he was one of the victim’s regular customers.
“He was really a good guy, you know, basically trying to help people out, if anybody needed it. He would try and assist them as best as he could. He was also a good cook,” Adams said.
Police said Watts has been placed on administrative assignment. WAVY News was unable to reach Watts Thursday, and his attorney declined to comment.
According to court documents, the Suffolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is handling the case because of a conflict of interest with the Portsmouth Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office. Prosecutors declined to comment on the case.