City officials said that a Concord Police sergeant was suspended Thursday after a video went public showing him driving past a stopped school bus and almost hitting a student who got off the bus.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol gave Sgt. Matthew Willet a ticket for passing a stopped school bus, and the Concord Police Department put him on administrative duty until an internal review was done, according to a news release from the City of Concord last week.
It is a Class 1 misdemeanor to pass a stopped school bus.
On May 11, the probe was done, and Chief Gary Gacek said Willet would be suspended for five days without pay.
“As a parent whose kids took the school bus for a long time, I understand that anger fully. Gaeck said in a statement on Thursday, “This officer, Matthew Willet, did the wrong thing.”
“Some people on social media have asked me to fire Matt because of what he did. This was a big mistake, and he is being held responsible for it, but let me be clear: this isn’t enough to fire him.”
Gaeck said that Willet has been with the department for 15 years and that no one has ever complained about him.
Gaeck said, “Matt took full responsibility for his mistake and feels very bad about what happened.” “The investigation showed that he was behind another car in traffic when he pulled into a lane to turn right into a neighborhood. He didn’t see the bright lights and didn’t know the bus had stopped to let a child off.”
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Video Shows a North Carolina Cop Passing a School Bus
The city said in a news release that the video shared on social media shows a cop “breaking the law and putting a child in danger.” “This driver shouldn’t have done what he did, especially since officers are held to a higher standard.”
The video shows that the student comes very close to dying in just a few seconds.
The incident happened on Odell School Road in Cabarrus County, according to public data.
The kid who got off the Cabarrus County Schools bus stood still as an officer in a marked Concord Police Department car drove by on the door side of the bus, according to a video that Orlando Almazan Jr. shared on Thursday.
The tweet below verifies the news:
A student was nearly hit and the officer didn’t see the bus flashing lights, the chief said. https://t.co/BBhMHMurw9
— The Charlotte Observer (@theobserver) May 19, 2023
Later, he said that the bus driver got his daughter’s attention, who was almost hit.
The film shows that the student stood there for a few more seconds as if shocked, before walking down the gravel driveway of a house.
The student’s father, Orlando Almazan Jr., posted a video of the event on Facebook with a caption that said, “Unacceptable!”
He thanked everyone on Facebook for their worries. “This is being taken care of,” he said.
Almazan wrote on Facebook, “I also want to give a HUGE thanks to the bus driver, Mr. B, for seeing the police car and calling my daughter’s attention to it.”
As soon as the police saw the tape, they tried to get in touch with the child’s family to see how she was doing. Police sources said that officers talked with the student’s father the next morning.
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