This case involves New Jersey State Trooper Robert Higbee, who was on patrol the evening of September 27, 2006 in the Cape May area of the Jersey shore. As defendant Higbee went through an intersection in pursuit of a speeder at about 10:00 p.m., two sisters were entering the intersection after buying milk for their grandmother. The result was a disastrous collision that killed 17-year-old Jacqueline Becker and 19-year-old Christina Becker.
The Philadelphia Enquirer describes it like this:
New Jersey State Trooper Robert Higbee was barrelling through the Marmora section of Upper Township about 10 p.m. on Sept. 27, 2006, when he slammed his police cruiser into a minivan carrying two sisters who had borrowed it from their grandmother to pick up milk at the local convenience store.
Those two opening paragraphs tell the whole story. Was he "barrelling through" the intersection irresponsibly or was he "on patrol" and "in pursuit" of a speeder? This is exactly what the jury will have to determine.
An eyewitness said he was driving extremely fast, without emergency lights or sirens. The impact propelled both women through the passenger-side window, they were pronounced dead at the scene.
Most of the comments to the CNN story, which is much less antagonistic towards Higbee than the Enquirer article, are along the lines of, "these abusing cops must be stopped." I generally agree that policemen should be held to a higher standard than regular citizens, anyone in a position of authority should, but in this case I wonder if the vengeance motive has taken over. Much like the cries for "justice" that accompany capital punishment cases, based on the heartbreaking emotion of the loss of innocent life, I wonder if Trooper Higbee is being dragged over the coals for what was nothing more than an accident, a tragic one, but an accident nonetheless, committed during the commission of his duty.
These are just thoughts off the top of my head. I stand ready to take them back if during the trial it's revealed that he's demonstrated disregard for safety in the past, if he's been known to abuse his power in other ways, and certainly if he's had a history of alcohol and drug abuse on the job. But barring those things, I say he may have been involved in a terrible accident, that resulted in the unintentional death of two young women, and I don't think people should be punished for having accidents.
What's your opinion? What do you think about State Trooper Higbee, guilty or not guilty?
Please leave a comment.