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After fatally hitting a pedestrian with his motorcycle in Long Beach in 2019, a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer is reportedly facing a misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charge. Alfredo Gutierrez is accused of speeding when the motorcycle he was driving struck and killed Cezannie Mount.
CHP officials reported that at the time of the crash, Gutierrez was ejected from his motorcycle after striking Mount on his way to work. He was hospitalized for major head trauma. Mount, for his part, was crossing Del Amo Boulevard outside of a crosswalk when he was hit. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mount was walking home from work and was in his neighborhood when he was struck by Gutierrez, his father said. “We live in a residential area and he was speeding. For us, we have no idea how he didn’t even see our son,” he said.
Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said in a statement: “As prosecutors we need to put aside our emotions and focus on the facts of the case, treating every defendant fairly, without prejudice for or against. In this case, that meant filing vehicular manslaughter charges related to the death of Cezannie Mount.”
In an interview referenced by Mercury News, Capt. Joe Zizi said that Gutierrez was employed at the CHP South Los Angeles office at the time of the crash, and remains assigned there to duties in which there is no public contact.
Gutierrez was charged with vehicular manslaughter in Oct. 2020, nearly one year after the incident. If convicted, he could face up to one year in county jail. Moreover, lawyers for the Mount family filed a civil lawsuit against Gutierrez and the CHP in May, alleging wrongful death and negligence. The lawsuit also asks for a jury trial.
The lawsuit accuses Gutierrez of driving at least 70 mph in a 40 mph zone at the time of the crash, in an area known for foot traffic, according to the family’s attorney. He was driving a CHP motorcycle and did not have his lights or sirens on at the time of the crash, court records show. The lawyer reportedly said that Gutierrez had a history of speeding and that the crash was “an accident waiting to happen.”
She also relayed that before becoming a CHP officer, DMV records showed that Gutierrez had four speeding tickets within five years, and that he also had participated in racing motorbikes. “This is not who you should trust to be a police officer on a motorcycle,” she said.
A lawyer for the CHP and Gutierrez filed a motion after the criminal case was filed, asking for the civil case to be put on hold until the conclusion of the criminal case against Gutierrez.
In the U.S, one pedestrian dies every 90 minutes. Out of the 200 most populous cities in the U.S., Allstate ranked Long Beach as the 171st safest city to drive in. In 2017, Long Beach had 231 pedestrian accidents that resulted in 9 fatalities, according to the California Highway Patrol Annual Report. In contrast, there were 174 motorcycle injuries that resulted in eight fatalities that same year.