St. Louis County Police Officer Preston Marquart Charged in 12-Year-Old's Death

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St. Louis County Police Officer Preston Marquart. - COURTESY ST. LOUIS POLICE
St. Louis County Police Officer Preston Marquart.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with new information, a statement from St. Louis County police and a booking photo of Marquart.

The St. Louis County police officer who crashed into twelve-year-old Akeelah Jackson has been charged in her death.

Officer Preston Marquart was charged today with a felony count of involuntary manslaughter. He is accused of negligence during a high-speed chase on October 14, 2019, according to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney.

"The charges follow an exhaustive and detailed investigation in collaboration with our partners in the 6th District and Traffic Divisions of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department," Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner said in a written statement.

Marquart was in his police SUV that day when he spotted a black Chevy Camaro that had the wrong license plate. When Marquart tried to pull over the car, the driver sped off. According to a probable cause statement from city police, Marquart chased the Camaro across the county border into north city, hitting speeds of nearly two times the posted limit.

Despite the high speeds, Marquart didn't turn on his emergency lights or siren and continued even after he noticed Akeelah and another girl, authorities say. Akeelah didn't see the pursuit coming and stepped into the road near Canaan Avenue and Halls Ferry Road in the Baden neighborhood, where Marquart's SUV slammed into her, according to the probable cause statement.

The girl was taken to the hospital where she stayed for nearly a month before dying on November 12, 2019.

Because the fatal crash happened in the city, case was investigated by city police and the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's staff.

A warrant with a $250,000 bond issued for Marquart's arrest. He was booked today and has bonded out.

St. Louis County police say Marquart is still employed by the department, but will be suspended without pay in keeping with department policy, St. Louis County police spokesman Sgt. Benjamin Granda said in an email.

“Akeelah and her loved ones continue to be in our thoughts and prayers, just as they have been since that tragic day,” Granda added.

Correction: In the original version of this story, e had the make of the car Marquart was chasing wrong. We regret the error.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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