Witness claims deputies drove dangerously before Hooks motorcade crash

By Jason Miles - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Part of East Parkway was blocked Tuesday morning after two motorcycles collided while escorting the hearse transporting the body of late civil rights icon Benjamin Hooks.

"One deputy just cut in front of the other deputy," said Shelby County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Shular on the scene.

Eleven deputies in all were among those escorting the hearse from the airport to a funeral home on Vance.

"The investigation is still underway," said Shular.  "Charges could be pending because of that sudden movement from one officer to the other."

"Every single one of them should be reprimanded," said a man we'll call "Maxwell."

Maxwell fears retaliation from deputies who he believes reached speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour.

"I mean, these guys were going from lane to lane to lane and back and forth and weaving between each other," he said.

He claims he was in the midst of the motorcade when the deputies collided just south of Central Avenue.

"I thought one was gonna be dead for sure," Maxwell said. "They went up in the air."

Maxwell not only believes the deputies were driving dangerously.  He considers their actions disrespectful.  Fortunately, he says the hearse carrying the body of Dr. Hooks avoided the collision.

"He would have been appalled," says "Maxwell."

While the wreck remains under investigation, the sheriff's office has no reason to believe any policy was broken leading up to it.  Furthermore, what's known as "leapfrogging" from intersection to intersection is protocol during this type of escort.

"They're obviously and endangerment to themselves, but also to the public," he said.

Maxwell believes the policy needs to change.

Both deputies were taken to The MED with bumps and bruises.  They are expected to be okay.

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