The driver of a sport-utility vehicle that collided with an off-duty Prince George’s police officer’s cruiser Thursday caused the accident that led to the officer’s death, the county’s police chief said Friday.
That driver, who has not been named publicly, has not been charged with a crime. Police said Friday that the SUV driver, who had been in a left-turn lane on Branch Avenue near the intersection with Surratts Road in Clinton, “made the decision to cross several lanes of traffic,” hitting Officer Kevin Bowden’s cruiser.
The crash forced the cruiser into a utility pole, police had said.
At a Friday news conference, Chief Mark Magaw said “the actions of the driver of the SUV caused the collision.” But he also said Bowden, 28, was not wearing a seat belt and was driving above the speed limit — although Magaw did not know the exact speed.
Bowden had worked for the police department for six years, Magaw said. He had two children and lived in Clinton, where he was born.
In an interview Friday, Howard University Police Chief Leroy James recalled Bowden as a young go-getter whom he singled out for the best training.
James, who spent 27 years on the Prince George’s force before retiring and taking over at Howard, said he commanded the Oxon Hill district when Bowden was assigned there as a rookie officer out of the academy.
“He was a good kid who just wanted to do police work,” James said. “He wanted to do a good job and he did, and I gave him a good training officer. He was a dedicated guy who wanted to help people, just the kind of police officer we were looking for.”
Another county officer, Adrian Morris, 23, was killed on Interstate 95 in August when he lost control of his cruiser and crashed during a chase. Like Bowden, Morris was not wearing a seat belt when he died.
Magaw said his department has been reminding officers to buckle up and plans to introduce an extensive traffic safety program by December.
“There are so many things in the profession that you can’t control,” he said. “You have to control the things you can. Wearing a seat belt is certainly one of those.”
Information about funeral arrangements for Bowden was unavailable Friday.
Matt Zapotosky contributed to this report.