CrimePolice

Man could face murder, DUI charges in wrong-way crash that killed Elk Grove police officer

ELK GROVE, Calif. — A Sacramento man found walking away from a horrific crash Friday that killed an Elk Grove Police officer has been booked at the Sacramento County Main Jail on several felonies including murder and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Jermaine Jeryan Walton, 31, was detained by CHP officers responding to the crash who said he displayed “objective signs and symptoms” of being drunk. A field investigation was launched which, according to police, proved Walton was legally intoxicated and he was placed under arrest.

His felony case, yet to be filed by Sacramento County prosecutors, could include charges like felony hit and run, driving on the wrong side of the road, murder, and DUI involving injury.

According to court records reviewed by The Update, Walton pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge in 2018 and was sentenced to 180 days in a Sheriff’s Work Project and 3 years of probation. That prior conviction, under “Watson murder” case law, allows prosecutors to charge him with second degree murder if they choose.

The case law, stemming from a 1981 California Supreme Court case that reversed a lower court’s dismissal of murder charges against Robert Watson of Redding, institutes a written advisement that defendants sign during their sentencing hearing.

“I understand that being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, impairs my ability to safely operate a motor vehicle, and is extremely dangerous to human life to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both,” the warning reads. “If I continue to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both, and as a result of my driving, someone is killed, I can be charged in California with murder.”

Other cases filed under the same law include a murder case against Armando Moreno-Rodriguez, suspected of driving drunk and running over cyclist Mike Dodson near American River Parkway last year. He, like Walton, was previously convicted of DUI.

Police say Walton, driving northbound on SR-99 in a 2016 Dodge Challenger, crossed into the southbound lane and plowed into Elk Grove PD officer Ty Lenehan shortly after a commuter called 911 on him.

Lenehan, who drove his department motorcycle in full uniform on his way to work, was ejected from the motorcycle and later died of his injuries at the UC Davis Medical Center. He was a United States Air Force veteran and a six-year employee of the EGPD, only beginning as a motorcycle officer last year.

“This is an incredibly sad day for the Elk Grove Police Department and the Elk Grove community,” chief Timothy Albright said at a news conference. “We grieve for Ty’s family, our law enforcement family, and the Elk Grove community.”

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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