County Officer Won't Be Charged in Fatal Accident

By Megan Trent

January 11, 2013 Updated Jan 11, 2013 at 8:13 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) - The Allen County officer who killed a man while responding to a personal injury accident on March 19 will not face criminal charges.

Six men and women on an Allen County grand jury determined in December that Officer Mark Sickafoose did not act with criminal recklessness when he ran a red light at the intersection of Dupont and Diebold Roads while responding to an accident on Tonkel Road.

Sickafoose slammed into a van driven by 27-year-old Elmo Portee Jr., killing Portee and sending three other people to the hospital, including a child. Portee was a father of four.

Special Prosecutor in the case, Daniel Sigler, says Sickafoose was going more than 70 miles per hour at the time of impact.

"Elmo Portee Jr. by all reports was a good man," says Sigler. "He did not do anything wrong, so it's not about that. It's not about the officer being an officer. It's about, did a criminal act take place?"

The grand jury determined Sickafoose's actions did not warrant criminal charges, but that does not mean a civil lawsuit won't take place.

Civil claims have already been filed. In a civil case, Sigler says jurors only have to believe that Sickafoose was negligent, not necessarily reckless. Proving negligence, he says, has a much lower legal threshold than proving recklessness.

Sigler says there are no winners in this case. He says two families were devastated that day. "This (Portee's) family is a nice family. They're good people. The officer is a good person. He has a family. I know he regrets what happened. I'm sure, and I'm not speaking for him, but I'm sure that he needs closure as well as his (Portee's) family. So, hopefully a way can be found to accomplish that."

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