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Darcy Costello

The Baltimore Sun

February 19, 2024

The former Baltimore Police officer convicted in a June 2022 fatal scooter collision was speeding through red lights without slowing and was on his second double shift of 16 hours, according to a report released by the Independent Investigations Division.

Alexis Acosta, 29, pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter in the death of 58-year-old Terry Harrell and was sentenced last month to two years of supervised probation.

A report released on Friday by the unit in the state attorney general’s office that investigates police fatalities across Maryland revealed that Acosta was going at least 15 to 25 miles per hour above the speed limit prior to the collision and said he “clearly” violated departmental policy that expects officers to slow down at intersections before going through a red light or stop sign.

The report also added that the collision occurred near the end of two consecutive days of double shifts for Acosta. He worked from 11 p.m. to 3 p.m. the day before, then returned to work at 11 p.m. and was again supposed to end at 3 p.m. The crash occurred around 12:35 p.m.

Harrell was driving on a gas-powered scooter at the intersection of East Biddle Street and North Milton Avenue in East Baltimore that June afternoon. He was proceeding through a green light when he was struck by Acosta’s vehicle, which had lights and sirens activated. Harrell died two days later

“What [Acosta] took was a father, a brother, a cousin, a pop pop, a best friend and a husband,” Harrell’s wife, Vernia Harrell, said at the time. An attorney for the family did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.

Acosta is the only police officer to be criminally charged following an Independent Investigations Division probe since the unit started its work in October 2021. At the time, Baltimore State’s Attorney Ivan Bates made the decision to prosecute Acosta; that decision will now be made by the attorney general’s office, following a law change that went into effect in October.

The unit found Acosta was responding to a call for additional units at the scene of a “cutting.” On his way, Acosta ran two red lights before reaching the intersection that Harrell was traveling through. Camera footage revealed he didn’t slow through either, the report said.

An officer following Acosta’s car, in contrast, slowed at each red light.

That officer, Ismael Rivera-Ocasio, said he didn’t see Acosta slow or brake before striking Harrell. A civilian witness also said the same, the report said.

Bystanders at the scene told officers “You ran that red light,” and “Y’all speeded through that light and hit that man,” the report said. Acosta, in body camera footage, told someone after the collision that he “tried to brake the most that I can, but I didn’t see him.”

A Maryland State Police crash report said Acosta was driving up to 57 miles per hour in the minute before the collision. At the moment of the crash, it said he was going about 40 miles per hour. The speed limit was 25 miles per hour.

That crash report also stated Harrell wouldn’t have been able to see or hear Acosta’s vehicle.

The Independent Investigations Division wrote in a legal analysis contained in its report that some factors point toward the gross negligence required to prove vehicular manslaughter: Acosta failed to significantly slow at multiple red lights or stop signs, he failed to account for the dense urban environment and difficulties identifying where a siren might be coming from, and the fact that the call he was responding to was not a “high-level emergency.”

It also noted that mitigating factors might include his lights and sirens being activated, the daylight and clear conditions, and the relatively uncrowded roads.

Separately, Baltimore prosecutors in recent days decided not to criminally charge the officers who were pursuing a car in March that subsequently crashed and killed a 74-year-old passenger. In a report from the Baltimore state’s attorney, prosecutors wrote it was “highly unlikely” that the police officer’s driving was grossly negligent or caused the death of the passenger.


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