York County District Attorney Tom Kearney cleared two state troopers of any wrongdoing in a pursuit that led to the death of a York City man in September.
"No criminal action or professional misconduct charges" against troopers Joseph M. Kozuch and Jeremiah R. Mistick are warranted, Kearney wrote in a report on the incident that was released Tuesday.
Hector Gonzalez, 31, of North Penn Street, died of blunt force trauma to the head after he crashed the car he was driving into Kiwanis Lake as he was fleeing police early on Sept. 16.
Citing the troopers' concern for public safety, Kearney wrote that the troopers were justified in pursuing Gonzalez, who was driving at high speed into an urban area at night.
"Public safety should have been and was of paramount concern to the officers involved. It is beyond question that the officers' concerns were reasonable," Kearney says in the report.
A state police spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.
The crash: The troopers spotted Gonzalez driving erratically, crossing the dividing line several times, on Route 30 at 3:24 a.m. and attempted to stop the Mercury Cougar he was driving after it turned onto Pennsylvania Avenue, according to a crash report by state police.
Gonzalez accelerated and passed another car by going into the oncoming lane after troopers turned on the emergency lights and sirens on the patrol car, the report says.
Gonzalez, the sole occupant of the car, fled south on Pennsylvania Avenue and lost control at its intersection with Parkway Boulevard, police said.
The car struck a curb, rolled over several times, struck several trees and landed in Kiwanis Lake. Gonzalez was ejected from the car, the report says.
Mistick went into the lake and unsuccessfully searched for Gonzalez in the partially submerged car.
A state police crash reconstruction expert determined that Gonzalez was going about 85 mph in a 35-mph zone at the time of the crash, the report says.
The pursuit lasted roughly half a mile.
Investigation: Gonzalez was found a few hours after the crash, and a state police investigator reported smelling strong odor of an alcoholic beverage from his body, the report says.
Police determined that Gonzalez was wanted on two felony warrants and 16 local warrants and was driving on a suspended or expired license, the report states.
Kearney said he was asked by state police officials to investigate the "conduct of the troopers" during the incident to see if criminal charges should be filed against them "as a matter of protocol."
Kearney determined that Mistick and Kozuch did not act recklessly in their pursuit of Gonzalez.
"The short time period and distance of the pursuit combined with the officers falling back when the Gonzalez vehicle accelerated do not evidence reckless conduct," Kearney said. "Accordingly, no criminal action or professional misconduct charges are warranted."
- Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.