KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Tennessee Board of Appeals upheld the termination of a Tennessee Highway Patrol trooper who drove past a fatal wreck.
Charles Van Morgan was fired from Tennessee Highway Patrol in 2012, according to court records. Morgan appealed the decision in a bid to keep his job, but the Tennessee Board of Appeals agreed there was cause to fire him.
On November 26, 2011, Kyle Anito was coming home from a night of partying with friends. According to court records, he passed Morgan’s patrol car traveling 79 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone.
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Dash cam video from that night shows Morgan attempting to pull Anito’s car over at around 3:30 a.m., but Anito didn’t stop his car. The video shows Morgan chasing Anito onto Anderson Pike in Knox County and reaching speeds of over 80 miles per hour.
When Anito drove over a small rise in the road, Morgan lost sight of him. Anito ended up crashing into a tree about 15 feet off the road resulting in a fiery death.
Video from that night shows Morgan passing the crash scene, slowing his car from 51 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour, then to 21 miles per hour, but not stopping. Then the video shows him speeding up and radioing dispatch that he had lost sight of the vehicle he was chasing and was terminating the pursuit.
A half mile down the road, video shows Morgan pulling over on the side of road and waiting until he heard a radio dispatch message that a crash with injuries was reported at the location that he had just passed. He returned to the crash and parked with his car headlights illuminating scene.
On the video, Morgan is seen leaving his car with a fire extinguisher some distance away, waiving the fire extinguisher around and spraying it toward the top of the flames. Troopers are taught to aim fire extinguishers at the base of the flames.
According to court records, Morgan later admitted to two of his supervisors that “I got out and got a fire extinguisher just to make it look good. . . I knew he was dead. .. But you know, you got to do that for the media and everybody else. I was just trying to put on a show.”
After returning to his car from the fire, Morgan telephoned his wife and asked her to look up the phone number for the Police Benevolent Association, which is an organization that arranges for legal representation of officers accused of wrongdoing.