Sheriff seeks discipline for 2 after fatal high-speed chase
DEKALB, Ill. (AP) — Two DeKalb County law enforcement officers are facing a formal inquiry and possible discipline for how they handled a high-speed pursuit that ended in a fatal crash.
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office’s Merit Commission met Saturday to review the case, which involves a deputy and her husband, who is a sergeant and was her supervisor the night of the crash. The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1KNmLMw ) the hearing focused on their conduct, including an initial sheriff’s department news release on the crash that didn’t mention a sheriff’s deputy was chasing the car involved.
Deputy Meagan Pettengell was chasing 25-year-old Jeffrey Nissen in her squad car following a reported domestic dispute when Nissen lost control of his car and crashed. He later died.
Pettengell’s husband, Sgt. Ryan Pettengell, was her supervisor during the March 30 chase. The couple has been suspended without pay since late June. It wasn’t clear why Ryan Pettengell was supervising his wife or whether there’s a department policy addressing married couples at work.
DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott has recommended firing for Meagan Pettengell and a 60-day suspension without pay for Ryan Pettengell.
Their attorney, Laura Scarry, said the pair did not violate department policies. Scarry said Meagan Pettengell obeyed her husband’s order to end the chase early by turning off her lights and siren. She kept following Nissen at speeds reaching 110 mph, according to the sheriff’s complaint.
“Forty mph over the limit? That would be unreasonable,” Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said during the hearing. “Without the red lights on? I’m not coming up with any (reason) offhand of why that would be appropriate.”
Ryan Pettengell wrote a news release about Nissen’s death that didn’t mention the chase involving his wife. For that, Scarry faulted deputies who approved the sergeant’s news release before it was sent out.
The three DeKalb County residents on the commission will decide if either of the Pettengells violated department policy.
Information from: The Daily Chronicle, http://www.daily-chronicle.com