By ZEINAB NAJM
HEIGHTS — Dearborn Heights police officer Larry Little was charged with a felony Nov. 7 after a vehicle crash killed a Wixom man in Allen Park Jan. 2.
The Wayne County Prosecutor Office announced the new charge of reckless driving causing death felony, which was changed from the previous moving violation causing death misdemeanor charge.
If convicted, Little could face a maximum of 15 years in prison. His personal bond was set at $10,000.
He still is on paid administrative leave from the Dearborn Heights Police Department since the initial misdemeanor charge on July 24. Little will remain on that leave until the case is completed.
An arraignment on the felony charge is scheduled for Nov. 13 in 23rd District Court in Taylor where the misdemeanor charge is expected to be dismissed.
It was ruled last month that because the police vehicle was running without the lights and siren at the time of the crash, the case “should be assessed under a reckless standard rather than negligence standard,” according to the prosecutor’s press release.
The seven-month investigation was started by the Allen Park Police Department and then turned over to the Michigan State Police Special Investigation Division. It was determined that at the time of the crash, emergency lights of the police patrol vehicle were not activated.
The press release also stated that Little was on duty while driving the marked patrol vehicle “at a high rate of speed in a 40 mile per hour zone” at the time.
The crash occurred about 9 p.m. on Jan. 2 when the Dearborn Heights patrol Ford Explorer was traveling east on Van Born Road attempting to catch up to another vehicle for a traffic stop.
As police officers continued to follow the vehicle they turned onto Pelham Road where they struck a Lexus ES 350 traveling west on Van Born.
Timothy Turner of Wixom was driving the Lexus and making a left turn from Van Born onto southbound Pelham while on his way to work.
The two police officers — including Little — and Turner were extricated from their vehicles by emergency responders and taken to a local hospital.
Turner was listed in critical condition before he died Jan. 8. Wayne County Spokesman Lloyd Jackson said Turner died from the injuries and complications as a result of the collision.
Both officers were treated for their minor injuries and released from the hospital.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)