Mother of Child Killed in Crash Caused by Off-Duty Cop Charged with Homicide

Mother of Child Killed in Crash Caused by Off-Duty Cop Charged with HomicideCC0US02:24 01.03.2018Get short URL



On Wednesday, Brittany Stephens of Louisiana was released on a $3,600 bond a day after officials arrested and charged her with one count of negligent homicide for failing to secure her daughter’s seat belt and cited her with a seat belt violation.

The charges stem from an October 2017 car crash caused by off-duty cop Christopher Manuel, who was driving nearly 100 mph when he slammed into the car that Stephens and her daughter, Seyaira Stephens, were riding in. The posted speed limit was 50 mph. Stephens’ one-year-old daughter died of injuries she suffered in the crash, The Advocate reported.

​Though Stephens told officials that she had buckled her daughter into the car seat, investigators concluded that the car seat was not, in fact, secured and that the placement of the straps did not correlate with her daughter’s height.

Police noted in Stephens’ arrest report that the “lack of securing the seat to the vehicle and the loose straps are a contributing factor in the death [of the child and] show gross negligence [on the mother’s part],” according to The Advocate.

Despite Stephens not being the driver of the vehicle, Sgt. L’Jean McKneely, the spokesperson for the Baton Rouge Police Department, further explained that Stephens was arrested because she “was the person responsible for the buckling of the car seat.”

The three other adults inside the vehicle were also issued traffic citations, the New York Daily News reported. The driver, 18-year-old Breea Gross, was cited for driving without a license, a seat belt violation and three counts of child safety restraint violation. Janice Gross, the owner of the car, was cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive her vehicle and a seat belt violation. The third adult, Seth Eames, was also given a citation for a seat belt violation.

With a total of eight people riding in the car, four adults and four children, McKneely added that there were more passengers than seats available in Gross’ Nissan.

Stephens’ arrest comes nearly two weeks after Manuel was arrested February 16 on one count of negligent homicide and speeding. He was released the same day after posting a $15,000 bond.

According to Raw Story, an internal investigation into the matter is expected to begin after Manuel recovers from his injuries and is cleared by a doctor. He will be placed on paid leave for the duration of the investigation.

Although Manuel and Stephens have both been hit with charges, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III told The Advocate that his office has not yet determined how they will proceed.

A statement reads that prosecutors “will review all reports, charges and arrests and make the appropriate decisions based upon facts and law.”

The deadly crash occurred October 12, 2017.