Neptune cop crashed car 7 times, drove 131 mph — still has job
NEPTUNE TOWNSHIP — A township police officer will lose three months of pay after crashing his car at least seven times while on duty over the years and racing to the scene of a fatal accident by going 131 mph.
The driving infractions are just some of the problems that Officer Kyheem Davis has faced with department officials during his career. He is among several officers who have sued the township. His pending 2015 lawsuit claims that officials retaliated against him when he stood by two officers who complained about sexual harassment.
Davis, a former local union president, has argued that the department was wrongly punishing him for trying to get to the scene of a fatal crash. But an appellate court decision released Wednesday provides new details into that Dec. 14, 2014, incident as well seven driving-related disciplinary actions over 10 years.
The appellate decision reverses another judge’s attempt to let Davis get off on the departmental charges. The three-judge panel this week said the earlier decision by their colleague was “arbitrary and capricious” and completely ignored evidence.
Before he was dispatched to the Route 66 crash in 2014, Davis had agreed to pick up breakfast for his sergeant. On his way back to the station, he stopped at his house, he says, to pick up a spoon.
He was dispatched at 8:28 a.m., not knowing that the crash had been fatal.
He replied that he was on his way a few seconds short of 2 minutes later. He was the third officer to arrive on scene.
His superiors faulted him for traveling 131 mph and for not getting permission to stop at his house. The department initially wanted to suspend him for 15 days, but he decided to fight the charges. A workplace hearing officer then imposed a 90-day suspension.
According to the appellate decision, his record is rife with crashes:
On Nov. 2, 2004, he was verbally reprimanded and ordered to take a driver improvement course after side-swiping a traffic control barrel and breaking the passenger side mirror.
On July 30, 2005, he was reprimanded for backing his car into another police vehicle.
On Sep. 17, 2005, he damaged his car by striking a curb on a highway curve. He was reprimanded, ordered to take a driver course and assigned a field training officer for three nights.
On Nov. 28, 2006, he crashed into a legally parked vehicle, which caused a chain reaction that damaged another vehicle. He was ordered to watch more training videos and lost 24 hours of compensatory time.
On Dec. 3, 2012, he crashed his car. He was reprimanded for failing to report the incident or turn on his dash cam, which officials said put the township at risk for a lawsuit.
On July 21, 2013, he rear-ended a car while he was running late. He was suspended for two days.
On May 3, 2014, he rear-ended a car, which an internal affairs investigation blamed on his “inattention.” He also failed to turn on his emergency light right after the accident.
In a non-driving incident, he was suspended for three days after “losing” a suspect’s iPhone in March 2015.
The previous decision by a Superior Court judge said that driving at 131 mph was not “per se reckless” because he did not run any lights or stops.
In fact, as the appellate decision points out, he drove through two stop signs in a residential area while going more than 35 mph. He also tailgated a truck going 84 mph, crossed a double-yellow line at 53 mph to pass three cars that had been stopped for a red light that just turned green, then turned right at an intersection from the left lane while going 43 mph and passing two cars. He also drove 80 mph in a 25 mph zone and drove on the wrong side of the road, according to the judges’ description of his dashcam video.
Davis earns a base salary of $123,000 after nearly 18 years of experience.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.