WEST BATON ROUGE — A West Baton Rouge grand jury unanimously indicted a former Addis police officer involved in a New Year’s Eve crash that killed two Brusly High teenagers. The grand jury also indicted the man accused of leading law enforcement on the chase, Tyquel Zanders.
Cauthron was indicted on two counts of manslaughter, aggravated obstruction of highway and commerce, negligent injuring of Liam Dunn and malfeasance in office charges.
Zanders was indicted on two counts of manslaughter, aggravated obstruction of highway and commerce, reckless operation and negligent injuring of Liam Dunn.
“First step toward justice”
Caroline Gill’s family was in court and shed tears when the charges were read in court.
“I feel relieved,” said Caroline’s father, Jason Gill. “I feel like justice will be served. That was the right call in my opinion. Nothing will ever take it away, but I think justice needs to be served in this case.”
Maggie Dunn’s family told Unfiltered with Kiran: “Today we have taken the first step toward justice for these three beautiful souls — Maggie, Caroline and Liam. It is our hope that a jury of the perpetrators peers will review the evidence at hand and return a conviction that allows the maximum amount of time for his reform. It is also our hope that upon conviction, the judge presiding over this case will issue the maximum sentence in solidarity to reflect upon his actions.
“Our family did not get a chance as to how long we got to reflect on our children’s death and injuries, we were handed a life sentence on December 31, 2022. We are judged by the public for our actions here on earth. Only God can judge us when our life here is over. “
“Blue lights don’t give you the right to part the Red Sea”
West Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Tony Clayton said the grand jury decision was unanimous.
“If you were to ask me, What’s the premise of this case, after you’ve heard from these parents, it stands for this in my opinion, that blue lights don’t give you the right to part the Red Sea,” Clayton said. “They (Cauthron and Zanders) got caught up in that adrenaline and it turned into tunnel vision. That tunnel vision turned into the death of these kids.
“I do believe and I hope the legislature revisit the way we do these high-speed chases,” Clayton added. “I just don’t believe you travel 100 miles an hour, in a small community like Brusly through Addis and into another parish. I think we need to look at because there’s no reason for these parents to endure what they they’ve been enduring.”
Tragic New Year’s Eve
Cauthron was speeding during a pursuit of Zanders, who had allegedly broken into his parents’ home and stolen their car. Cauthron was on LA 1 when investigating officials say he failed to brake when passing through a red light and smashed into another vehicle, killing Caroline Gill and Maggie Dunn.
Liam, 20, was the backseat passenger in the vehicle that was hit and was recently released from the hospital in January, nearly a month after the crash.
After the crash, Zanders continued northbound back over I-10 into Baton Rouge on the interstate at Dalrymple, investigators said.
After his car stalled on I-10, Zanders was arrested in the middle of I-10 and transported to the EBR Parish prison on several charges including theft of a motor vehicle, home invasion, aggravated flight from an officer and bench warrants.
Cauthron was arrested on Jan. 2 and charged with negligent homicide and bonded out on a $100.000 bond on Jan. 8. Cauthron was placed on leave following the accident and his arrest.
Cauthron submitted his letter of resignation on Jan. 9 after he bonded out of jail and the Addis Town Council officially accepted the officer’s resignation on Feb.1, which was the next scheduled council meeting after he submitted a resignation letter.