A Hancock County sheriff’s K-9 vehicle struck a 7-year-old girl while she was riding a bicycle on West Hinds Street in Bayside Park.
The girl’s injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, but her mother, Sabrina Nixon, is upset and told the Sun Herald the deputy was speeding when his vehicle struck her child on Wednesday.
Sheriff Ricky Adam has disputed the mother’s claims, and released video of the incident on Friday.
“It is my opinion that once the public sees the video, it will be agreed by most that this accident was not only unavoidable by my deputy, but the statements made about speeding, leaving skid marks and having to be flagged down are utterly false,” Adam said in a press release that accompanied the video sent to the media.
Nixon said an adult saw the vehicle hit her daughter, Makaylah Thompson, and flagged down the deputy.
Nixon said she believes the deputy was driving too fast. Residents have complained in the past about speeders, she said.
The posted speed limit on the street is 25 mph. The patrol unit’s in-car camera system and the vehicle’s computer system shows the deputy was traveling between 17 and 19 mph, Adam said.
Video from the deputy’s vehicle shows the deputy was going under the speed limit and that the child pulled in front of him, Adam said.
The girl came from behind a truck parked at the edge of the family’s home and into the street as the deputy was driving by, Adam said. The deputy realized it as it was happening, he said, adding that the mother was not there to see it when it happened.
“There was nothing anybody could do about it,” he said. “It was completely unavoidable.”
Adam said the deputy’s vehicle struck the front tire of the girl’s bike.
“Even the witness said that when she hit the ground, the tire of the bicycle spun her around and the back tire (of the bicycle) rolled over her long hair,” he said. “She was up walking around after it happened.”
“The video clearly shows he was under the speed limit and it clearly shows she came up from behind a truck parked at the end of their house,” Adam said.
Nixon identified the deputy as Collin Freeman, and said he got out of his vehicle, asked the child if she was OK, and he walked across the street to the fire station while on his phone and returned about 10 minutes later and called 911.
In response, Adam said the deputy “called it in immediately to dispatch and went in the fire station to get medics. Most firefighters are paramedics.”
The patrol unit’s GPS system shows the crash happened about 7:07 p.m., while dispatch logs show he called it in about 7:08 p.m., Adam said Friday while releasing the video.
Nixon said her child was taken to two different hospitals. Makaylah apparently suffered bruises and abrasions but was not seriously injured, though a tire mark can be seen on the child’s forehead, the mother said.
“All I know is she was taken to Hancock Medical Center as a precaution,” Adam said.
No action is being taken against Freeman because it was an accident, he said.
“When my deputies are rightful in their actions, I will fully defend them, rising above the exploitation of social media sensationalism,” Adam said.
The accident should serve as a reminder that “we must remain diligent in our supervision of our children,” he said.