It was October when Christopher Manuel crashed his Corvette into a Nissan while speeding at 94 miles per hour, police say.
Manuel is a 27-year-old officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana who was off duty at the time, according to WAFB. The crash killed 1-year-old Seyaira Stephens, and in mid-February the officer was charged with negligent homicide and speeding.
After the charges were announced, Brittany Stephens, the girl’s grieving mother who was also in the car, told WAFB “you just can’t bring her back, and that’s kind of the hardest part.”
“Every time I look around, it’s like I see her,” she said, “but then I realize that she’s gone.”
Now Stephens is charged in the crash — the same count of negligent homicide given to Manuel, according to The Advocate. The mom allegedly failed to properly secure Seyaira’s car seat, police say, and didn’t ensure that the straps were adjusted correctly.
Police say those actions “show gross negligence” on the part of Stephens and were “a contributing factor in the (girl’s) death,” according to WBRZ. Stephens was booked into a local prison on Monday for a seat belt violation and the homicide charge.
There were three other adults in the car with Stephens and her baby during the crash. But police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely told The Advocate that Stephens “was the person responsible for the buckling of the car seat.” That’s why the mother, who was not driving, faces the homicide charge.
Both cars had a green light at the time of the crash, according to WAFB. The Nissan that Stephens was in tried to make a left turn onto another road — and Manuel, allegedly driving 44 miles per hour over the speed limit, crashed his vehicle into it, police say.
“We turned left, and that’s when I heard my mom say, ‘Watch out for the car,’” Stephens recalled to WAFB. “I looked to my right, I seen lights, and that’s when everything just got blacked out.”
The collision caused the Nissan to flip over, according to WAFB, and the baby died about two weeks later in a hospital.
C. Denise Marcelle, a Democratic state representative, told The Advocate that she “was in shock” when she heard Stephens was facing criminal charges after her daughter died in a crash.
“I’m a little concerned when we start (arresting) people, especially since she wasn’t driving, with such an offense,” Marcelle told the newspaper. “It’s a bit far reaching to me.”
Manuel, already released on a $15,000 bond, is on paid administrative leave, according to WBRZ. The Baton Rouge Police Department said it is still looking into the crash.