Dodge City Police Department corporal indicted on charges from 2020 crash that claimed life of Vanessa Guzman
A Ford County grand jury returned Tuesday an indictment for involuntary manslaughter or, in the alternative, vehicular homicide against a corporal with the Dodge City Police Department.
It was the first such action by a grand jury in the county in decades.
Vanessa Guzman, of Dodge City, died from injuries sustained in a crash when officers were responding at 4:56 a.m. on Jan. 25, 2020, to reports of a break-in. A police vehicle collided with the passenger side of a car at the intersection of Wyatt Earp Boulevard and Matt Down Lane.
Guzman, the driver in the car, was ejected. Officers attempted lifesaving efforts, but Guzman was pronounced dead by medical personnel when they arrived at the scene.
Cpl. Shane Wade Harris, who was driving the police vehicle, was transported to Western Plains Medical Complex.
The Kansas Highway Patrol investigated the crash.
"In Kansas, a county attorney may request that the district court convene a grand jury to hear evidence and testimony and determine whether charges should be filed against a particular person," Ford County Attorney Kevin Salzman said Wednesday.
Salzman said the grand jury was comprised of 15 jurors selected from the community in a similar way to those selected to serve as jurors in civil or criminal trials. He said at least 12 of the 15 grand jurors must agree as to the charge or charges upon which a person should be indicted.
A grand jury decides whether sufficient probable cause exists to support the filing of charges and prosecution, Salzman said.
"The charges presented in a grand jury’s indictment are only allegations," he said.
Regarding the indictment, Dodge City Police Chief Drew Francis said, "I can’t comment on it right now because our internal investigation has not finished."
First appearance and arraignment hearing will be scheduled at a later date.
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