Following a three-month investigation into a Dec. 26, 2021 motor vehicle accident that resulted in the death of the 13-year-old operator of a high performance 2022 Honda CRF450R-S racing motorcycle, the Florida Highway Patrol has issued its traffic homicide investigation report.
The FHP report found that based on the totality of investigation, the accident occurred while the motorcycle operator was driving recklessly at approximately 85 miles per hour and unlawfully fleeing an attempted traffic stop initiated by a Boynton Beach police officer. There was no physical contact between the police officer’s vehicle and the motorcycle, the FHP report found. The FHP report closing status states: This investigation is complete, and no charges shall be filed, because the at-fault person expired as a result of the crash.
Now that the FHP traffic homicide investigation is completed, the Boynton Beach Police Department will conduct an internal affairs investigation to determine if any police department policies were violated by any Boynton Beach law enforcement officer involved in the incident.
The City of Boynton Beach will not be issuing status reports regarding the internal affairs investigation as all information obtained pursuant to the internal affairs investigation is confidential and exempt from the provisions of s. 119.07(1) (Florida Public Records Law) until the investigation ceases to be active, or until the Chief of Police provides written notice to the officer who is the subject of the complaint, either personally or by mail, that the agency has either:
- Concluded the investigation with a finding not to proceed with disciplinary action or to file charges; or
- Concluded the investigation with a finding to proceed with disciplinary action or to file charges.
UPDATE 3/1/22: Statement from Boynton Beach City Manager Lori LaVerriere:
As City Manager, I stand firm in my commitment to a thorough, fair and objective investigation into the events of Dec. 26, 2021. The Police Department turned this case over to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) on Dec. 26, 2021 so that it would be handled by an impartial third party. FHP’s criminal traffic homicide investigation is currently in progress. I will continue to explore and implement all means of expediting the review of this matter and bringing it to a fair and just conclusion.
In addition, following a news conference held this morning by the Law Firm of Ben Crump, the Boynton Beach Police Department received numerous inquiries from the media for clarification on the status of the officer involved in the Dec. 26, 2021 incident. The Boynton Beach Police Department reiterated that the officer was relieved of duty on Dec. 26, 2021, and the officer remains in that status on administrative leave. While in this status, the officer is not authorized to take any police action. The media also inquired about the existence of a dashboard camera in the vehicle involved in the Dec. 26, 2021 incident. The Boynton Beach Police Department reiterated that the vehicle involved was not equipped with a dashboard camera.
UPDATE 1/26/22: In response to the statements and questions posed at the January 18, 2022 City Commission meeting about the December 26, 2021 crash, the City Manager has provided a memorandum to assist the City Commission and all interested parties in understanding how this matter is being handled pursuant to state law, as well as the City Charter and City policies and procedures.
UPDATE 1/13/22: On Dec. 26, 2021, the Boynton Beach Police Department made a commitment to the young boy’s family and our community that there would be a series of objective and comprehensive investigations into this case. These investigations remain in progress. We thank the community for their continued patience as these investigations are given the time and thoroughness they deserve.
The below fact points are intended to provide transparency and clarity to our community as to several mistruths that have been circulating in reference to this incident.
- Shortly after the Dec. 26, 2021 crash, Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael G. Gregory authorized the request for the Florida Highway Patrol to conduct the investigation. The Florida Highway Patrol agreed and immediately responded to the scene. This request was made in an effort to demonstrate objectivity and increase trust in the results of the investigation.
- There are three investigations into this incident. The Florida Highway Patrol is conducting the traffic crash investigation. The Palm Beach County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting a death investigation, and the Boynton Beach Police Department will conduct an Internal Affairs investigation.
- To date, Chief Gregory has neither seen nor heard of any evidence or witness testimony that states that the officer’s vehicle came in contact with the dirt bike. A press release written by the Florida Highway Patrol and dated Dec. 27, 2021 indicated that “Vehicle 1 (V01) was traveling northbound on US Highway 1 approaching NE 8th Ave in the left lane. The driver of Vehicle-1 failed to maintain control of the vehicle and collided with the median curb. After impact with the median curb, the driver was ejected from Vehicle-1 and collided with a one way sign that was located in the median. The driver of Vehicle-1 came to final rest on southbound US Highway 1 in the left turn lane to NE 8th Ave, facing west in a prone position. After the impact with the median curb, Vehicle-1 was redirected in a northeasterly direction, where it came to final rest in the right lane, facing north. The driver of Vehicle-1 succumbed to the injuries caused by the crash and was pronounced deceased on scene. This case is pending investigation.”
- The Boynton Beach Police Department operated an outdated dash-camera system in its patrol cars until June 2019 when the last cameras stopped functioning. Due to the significant investment the department made just a few years earlier with a Body Worn Camera program, no dash-cameras were replaced at that time. The following year, a new dash-camera system was identified and implemented in a DUI Enforcement car and vehicles assigned to the K9 Unit. The marked police car that was being driven during the attempted the traffic stop in this incident on Dec. 26 is not assigned to the K9 Unit nor the Traffic Unit, and it is not equipped with a dash-camera.
- The Boynton Beach Police Department has turned over all video and other evidence to the Florida Highway Patrol as requested for their investigation.
UPDATE 12/31/21: As our community continues to mourn the young man who passed away in Sunday’s crash, we have been made aware of a planned gathering tomorrow at 2 p.m. at the Chevron gas station at 217 N. Federal Highway.
The gathering is being advertised on social media as a walk and ride, specifically inviting off-road vehicles that are prohibited from use on public roadways according to Florida law.
“We know how important this gathering is for our community’s path to healing,” Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael Gregory said. “We are asking that those who participate honor and remember this young man safely.”
We will be monitoring the roadways for unsafe activity, and we will issue traffic citations for egregious conduct and/or dangerous vehicle operations.
We encourage motorists to avoid North Federal Highway at Boynton Beach Boulevard and use either Seacrest Boulevard to the west or A1A to the east during this time.
UPDATE 12/29/21: The Boynton Beach Police Department has received a number of requests for the officer involved in the tragic crash to be identified. The officer invoked his right to Marsy’s Law exemptions as he and his family are victims of ongoing threats to their safety.
The department has taken the time to consult with the City Attorney’s Office, and based on their advice, Marsy’s Law does apply to this officer in both the threats case and Sunday’s crash.
Therefore, in order to comply with the law, the department will not be releasing the name of the officer involved in the crash.
According to Marsy’s Law, every victim is entitled to the right to be free from intimidation, harassment and abuse. In addition, the law gives every victim the right to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass the victim or the victim’s family, or which could disclose confidential or privileged information of the victim.
Watch: BBPD News Conference
UPDATE 12/28/21: Tonight, family, friends and community members came together in front of the police department to grieve and express their concerns over the tragic crash that occurred on Sunday. We support everyone’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble.
We will continue to work with our community and law enforcement partners throughout the duration of this investigation.
We encourage anyone with information regarding this investigation to contact the Florida Highway Patrol at *347 or visit our website, www.bbpd.org.
UPDATE 12/27/21: News release from Florida Highway patrol. Their investigation into the crash is ongoing.
INITIAL RELEASE 12/26/21: It is with great sadness that we announce the death of a 13-year-old boy who was operating a dirt bike this afternoon.
Preliminary investigation indicates that the dirt bike operator was observed driving recklessly on Boynton Beach Boulevard. Officers attempted a traffic stop, and the dirt bike went down in the 800 block of North Federal Highway.
“Our hearts go out to the family members of this young person, and they can trust that we and our law enforcement partners will be conducting a series of thorough and meticulous investigations into the circumstances of what occurred,” Boynton Beach Police Chief Michael G. Gregory said.
The officer involved will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigations, per department policy. The crash is being investigated by the Florida Highway Patrol.
We ask that anyone with information call us at 561-732-8116 or submit information via our website, www.bbpd.org.