Archived Story

Ask Trooper Rob: Prosecutor determines action in traffic crash

Published 9:32pm Thursday, September 27, 2012

What happens if there is a traffic crash, killing someone, but the driver isn’t drunk or impaired?
— Bailey from Niles

Thank you for the question. I would like to remind readers to email me at Trooperrob53@yahoo.com if you have questions or comments. Traffic crashes are traumatic to all involved, especially tragic when someone dies as a result of the crash. Many police departments have advanced crash investigators who investigate fatal crashes. After the investigation, the report does get reviewed by the prosecutor for any possible charges. If the crash is caused by any moving violation, MCL 257.601d, Person who commits moving violation causing death of another person or serious impairment of body function; states “(1) A person who commits a moving violation that causes the death of another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 1 year or a fine of not more than $2,000 or both. (2) A person who commits a moving violation that causes serious impairment of a body function to another person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 93 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both. (3) This section does not prohibit the person from being charged with, convicted of, or punished for any other violation of law.

Trooper Kermit Fitzpatrick, 30, was working patrol on the freeways of Detroit at about 8:30 a.m. July 7, 1991. He stopped a blue Ford Mustang on the westbound Jefferies Freeway (I-96) near Joy Road for a routine traffic violation.

The driver didn’t pull over completely so Fitzpatrick used the PA system and had the driver pull over properly. He then approached the driver side of the vehicle. He then made contact with the 20-year-old driver and only occupant, Steven Mcguire. Standing next to and slightly behind the driver’s door, Fitzpatrick leaned toward the window to question McGuire. Suddenly, McGuire raised a .22 caliber semiautomatic pistol and fired six rapid shots. One shot hit Fitzpatrick in the jaw. As he grabbed his jaw, two bullets entered his chest through exposed left underarm. Another bullet struck his right leg above the knee, but his bullet-resistant vest stopped the other two rounds. As Fitzpatrick staggered and crumpled to the ground in a pool of blood, McGuire took off at a high rate of speed.

Several passing motorists witnessed the shooting and aftermath and stopped to assist the fallen trooper. They administered first aid until Detroit police arrived and transported him to Henry Ford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead just before 9 a.m. Assisted by State Police detectives, the Detroit Police Department Homicide Squad quickly developed McGuire as a suspect.

After shooting at another person who picked him up hitchhiking, McGuire ran into a field, where he was captured and arrested by Henry County sheriff’s deputies.

The deputies recovered the murder weapon and a full confession. McGuire was convicted in Wayne County Circuit Court of first-degree murder and felony firearms. He was sentenced to life in prison in solitary confinement at hard labor with no possibility of parole.

Fitzpatrick, who joined the MSP on Feb. 22, 1987, was buried in Mt. Clemens at a funeral that was attended by more than 2,000 police officers.

He received the posthumous Valor Medal and was the 41st trooper to die in the line of duty.

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