Harrison County

Officer cleared in pedestrian death was ‘grazed’ by car while giving CPR, chief says

A police officer has been cleared of wrongdoing after he hit and killed a pedestrian with his patrol car.

A Harrison County grand jury has cleared the officer of wrongdoing in the death of Edgar Lambert Jr., who was struck by a patrol car Jan. 19 while crossing U.S. 49 just north of Airport Road.

Chief Leonard Papania identified the officer as Sgt. Tony Alves on Wednesday after learning the District Attorney’s Office had released a partial grand jury report to the media.

Lambert, 54, of Bossier City, Louisiana, was crossing the highway about 6 p.m., 30 minutes after sunset, when he was struck by Alves’ marked car. Heavy rain had fallen across the area early that night.

“It was very tragic for Mr. Lambert,” Papania said. “It was tragic for his family, and it was certainly tragic for that police officer.

“The immediate reaction of Sgt. Alves was attempting to render life-saving measures. He initiated CPR, and in the course of doing that, he was slightly grazed by another car on that dark roadway. He made all efforts to save Mr. Lambert, but unfortunately it wasn’t successful.”

Alves was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Alves is a member of the Blue Crew, a group of Gulfport police officers who play basketball with area teens as a community relations effort.

Alves was on duty when it happened, Papania said. He declined to release details, citing the potential for a lawsuit.

The grand jury reviewed the death as a matter of concern. Its brief statement said, “While the grand jury regrets this unfortunate incident, it finds that no criminal conduct was involved in this matter by the Gulfport Police Department.”

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove released Lambert’s name about two weeks after the crash, saying there had been a delay in finding family for a notification.

Less than two weeks before Lambert’s death, the Sun Herald reported on a reader’s complaint that more than 200 street lights were out in Gulfport on U.S. 49, a major north-south corridor on the Mississippi Coast.

A Biloxi Police Department accident reconstruction team investigated the crash. An investigation by a different agency is standard procedure in officer-involved crashes in South Mississippi when a death occurs.

Robin Fitzgerald: 228-896-2307, @robincrimenews