A Unified Police officer with history of hitting large objects with her police cruiser won’t face criminal charges for running over and killing a woman who was lying down in a parking lot.
Since Officer Megan Franklin was unaware 23-year-old Cindreia Europe was lying on the ground in a dark parking lot on the night of March 5 when she was investigating a report of a “man down,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill reasoned Franklin could not be held criminally responsible for hitting the woman.
In a letter sent to Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera and Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown on Friday, Gill said he weighed whether or not he could charge Franklin with reckless conduct or criminal negligence.
Gill ultimately decided he could not because both charges require Franklin to be aware of the potential risks of her conduct — and he believes Franklin was not because 911 dispatchers apparently never told her to be.
LaToya Mack, Europe’s mother, said, “As you can imagine me and the family are completely devastated. What must the burden of proof be when a dead body doesn’t justify justice?"
Mack said she is planning to file a lawsuit against UPD, Franklin and the 911 dispatchers.
According to the letter, Franklin was working a patrol shift in Millcreek on March 5 when she was dispatched to a strip mall near 2300 East and 3300 South to check on a report of a person down in the area.
A caller reported that someone wearing dark clothing was lying in the parking lot, and they were worried that person could be run over.
“Unfortunately, in relaying the information from the 911 call, not all the information provided by the caller was communicated to patrol officers,” Gill wrote.
Dispatchers told officers there was a “man down," but provided the adjacent property’s address and didn’t mention the person was lying in the parking lot, nor the caller’s concern that person could be run over.
Franklin told prosecutors that dispatchers didn’t tell her the general area where the person could be found. Franklin said she scanned the parking lot and didn’t see anyone. When she turned her vehicle after searching some of the lot, she ran over Europe.
Europe was on the ground because a car she’d been staying in at the parking lot was towed earlier in the day, leaving her shelterless.
In his letter, Gill said the available evidence suggests Franklin didn’t know she should be on the look out for someone on the ground, and, thus, didn’t know the potential risk of running someone over.
“Officer Franklin was looking for a person in the parking lot. She was looking in places one would think to look: on a bench, by a store or building," Gill wrote.
Gill’s letter does not mention Franklin’s past driving history, and he said in a phone interview that prosecutors were aware of her record, but that it wasn’t relevant to their investigation.
Franklin has been involved in seven crashes in a police vehicle, according to records released to The Salt Lake Tribune through a records request.
The records show Franklin was prone to running over large objects — like rocks — with her police vehicle when she worked for West Valley City Police Department.
She resigned from West Valley City police in October 2017 and got a job at UPD after that. She has since also resigned from UPD, police spokeswoman Melody Gray said.
Gray did not know when Franklin left UPD, and declined to comment further.
Europe made her way to Utah after leaving her home in Georgia in September 2017. Mack told The Tribune soon after her daughter’s death that Europe drove away without saying anything to her on an otherwise normal day.
Mack said Europe was bright and loved science and experimenting. Mack said she was unsure why Europe left home, but that her daughter had always been unique and independent.