Family of 5-year-old crash victim calls for Auburndale police sergeant to be charged

Polk Co. Sheriff’s Office says an Auburndale sergeant was responding to a call with lights and sirens when he collided with the car Jalina Anglin was riding inside.

AUBURNDALE, Fla. — There are calls for justice after a 5-year-old girl was killed in a crash involving an Auburndale police sergeant.

Jalina Anglin’s family, Black Lives Matter Restoration Inc. and The Poor & Minority Justice Association (PMJA), held a press conference Monday evening to call for the officer involved in the crash to be terminated from the department and charged with vehicular manslaughter.

“I can’t stop thinking about my baby, my grandchild is no longer here,” said LaTrice McKinnis, Jalina’s grandmother. “We want justice. Jalina was a bright, intelligent young girl that was taken from us.”

Jalina’s family and its advocates claim the police sergeant was driving recklessly.

“The law does not qualify any office to speed at irritate speeds and not use any discretion when approaching major intersections,” BLM Restoration Inc. Vice President Carl Soto said. “This was 100% avoidable. [Jalina’s mother’s] light was green, [the sergeant’s] light was red. So common sense would tell you to reduce speed and ensure no vehicles are coming in the opposite direction.”

Soto said his organization has written a letter to the Department of Justice calling for an independent investigation into the crash.

According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, on the evening of Saturday, Nov. 25, an Auburndale police sergeant was responding to a call to assist a deputy from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office who was involved in a physical altercation with a suspect.

According to PCSO, the sergeant was driving a marked truck with lights and sirens on when he approached the intersection of U.S. 92 (Magnolia Avenue) and Havendale Boulevard. The other involved vehicle, a blue 2016 Kia sedan, had been stopped for a red light on northbound Havendale Boulevard.

According to PCSO, “Multiple witness statements indicated that when the light changed to green for northbound lanes, traffic held for the approaching police vehicle. The driver of the Kia also informed PCSO detectives that she heard the sirens, but began to proceed into the intersection because the vehicle next to her moved forward. The Kia crossed into the path of the police vehicle, and the two vehicles collided.”

The Kia was driven by 5-year-old Jalina Anglin’s mother. Jalina, who was in the back seat, did not survive.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd responded to the calls by the family, BLM, and PMJA tonight, saying in a statement:

“Here we go again with the PMJA making false accusations and inflammatory statements. This fatal crash investigation by our Traffic Homicide Unit, which is the very best in the business, is still ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, the full report will be available for inspection under Florida’s public records laws. As we do with all traffic crashes, we release very preliminary information to the media and the public as quickly as possible. To suggest any nefarious conduct by law enforcement is outrageous, and once again diminishes the PMJA’s credibility.”

Gil Sanchez is a civil litigation attorney and CEO of Black Rock Trial Lawyers in Tampa. Sanchez explains that details of the physical altercation call the Auburndale sergeant was responding to impact how he was allowed to drive.

“If the police officer was under such distress that his life was in danger, then the officer, under those circumstances, would have the ability to go through that intersection at a high speed and not slow down,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez describes the case as “very complex” and highly charged.

“A big part of this case is analyzing comparative negligence. What percentage of fault is associated to the officer involved and what percentage of fault is associated to the mother who was driving?” he added.

The Auburndale police chief tells 10 Tampa Bay that the department won’t be commenting until after the investigation is complete. He said the sergeant involved is on administrative leave and has been since the accident occurred.