ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A former Bellefontaine Neighbors Police officer has been charged in relation to the 2020 death of Moline Acres Police Sergeant Herschel Turner Jr.
Brian Rayford, 41, of Florissant, was charged with first-degree involuntary manslaughter. His bond is set at $100,000 cash-only.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated this incident, and it is also being investigated and prosecuted by the Conviction and Incident Review Unit in the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
According to the prosecuting attorney’s office, MSHP found that Rayford caused the death of Turner on December 5, 2020 at about 12:30 a.m.
The investigation found Rayford struck and killed Turner while pursuing a vehicle in his patrol car. While in pursuit, he had “not confirmed that the suspects involved had committed or had attempted to commit a dangerous felony,” the prosecuting attorney’s office said. He was also in pursuit “without a supervisor’s authorization or any reasonable evidence that the need to immediately apprehend the drive of the vehicle outweighed the level of danger to the public created by his pursuit.”
While in pursuit, Rayford was driving 80-85 mph in a 30 mph zone. His emergency lights and sirens were not on. Rayford drove westbound into eastbound Dunn Road traffic also without turning on his emergency lights or sirens.
Turner was hit while “conducting a traffic stop on Chambers Road, between Norwich Drive and Lance Drive.” This is near the dividing line of Moline Acres and Bellefontaine Neighbors.
The vehicle Rayford was in pursuit of crashed into Turner’s unoccupied police vehicle and then fled the scene. Shortly after, Rayford swerved to avoid the crash, went off the roadway, and hit Turner.
“We understand being an officer is a very tough job. When initiating a high-speed pursuit of a vehicle, police officers need to make sound decisions that responsibly balance the danger that their pursuit will cause against the threat an offender potentially poses to the community. Some facts show closer calls, but this was not close,” St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell said. “We believe the evidence shows that this officer did not make sound decisions and, tragically, that caused the death of a police sergeant who was just doing his job.”
Turner was with the Moline Acres Police Department since 2015 but had been serving as an officer for 22 years.
Rayford is no longer employed by the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department.