Las Vegas Police to Pay $120,000 for Fatal Crash

Las Vegas police have agreed to pay a $120,000 settlement to a man originally charged with drunken driving in a crash that killed a police officer driving more than 100 mph on his way to a possible crime scene.

Officer James Manor, 28, was responding to a domestic violence call with no siren or flashing lights in May 2009 when his cruiser plowed into Calvin Darling’s pickup truck as Darling tried to make a left turn in front of the oncoming officer on Flamingo road.

Darling, then 45, told police he was on his way home from work after having three or four beers.

The arresting officer said he had bloodshot eyes, smelled of alcohol and failed a field sobriety test. But Darling subsequently was released and the charges dropped when his blood alcohol content tested 0.035 percent, less than half Nevada’s legal limit of 0.08.

Sheriff Doug Gillespie originally said Manor had his lights and siren on at the time, but later acknowledged that was not the case. He also learned later the officer was doing 109 mph in the 45 mph zone and was not wearing a seatbelt.

Manor was the first of three Las Vegas police officers killed in car crashes in a span of seven months. After his death, Gillespie ordered a review of the department’s driving policy.

The new policy adopted in December restricts police speeds to 20 mph over posted speed limits except in vehicle pursuits, boosts driver training for newer officers and re-emphasizes the requirement to wear seat belts in all but the rarest of circumstances.

Gillespie said Manor was traveling at an “excessive and unsafe” speed.

“Any reasonable person would have been unable to determine the police cruiser was traveling in excess of 100 mph as it approached the intersection and would have felt sufficient time existed to make the left turn prior to the arrival of the officer’s car” the department said in a news release.

Darling said at a news conference after being cleared he felt the police had treated him fairly.

“It was a highly charged incident,” he said. “I think it could have been handled a little differently, but all in all, I think everybody did what they thought they had to do.”