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Former Kansas City Police Officer Charged With Manslaughter For Wreck That Killed Teen

Rebecca Hange
KCUR 89.3
A now-former Kansas City police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the fatal vehicle crash that killed a teenager. Above, Kansas City, Missouri, Police Headquarters.

A now-former Kansas City police officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the vehicle crash that killed a Shawnee Mission senior on I-435 near Arrowhead Stadium last fall.

Terrence Watkins was off-duty when he crashed a Police Athletic League van into a car that was caught in slow traffic near Arrowhead Stadium on Oct. 21, 2018, killing 17-year-old Chandan Rajanna and injuring two other passengers.

The Jackson County Prosecutor’s office said in a press release Friday that an investigation revealed Watkins was using his phone and driving 76 miles per hour less than a second before the crash.

Court records reveal Watkins was employed off-duty as security for the Kansas City Chiefs and was due in at 4 p.m. The crash occurred a few minutes after 4 p.m.

In the press release, Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker lamented Rajanna’s death: "We mourn with the family and the community for the loss of our teenage victim and his promising future, cut short." 

Watkins faces involuntary manslaughter in the first degree, two counts of assault in the second degree and a misdemeanor for careless and imprudent driving. He had been on administrative leave since the crash, but resigned last month, according to the Kansas City Missouri Police Department.

In a statement, the KCPD said the charges "represent a painstakingly thorough investigation into the tragic crash." That investigation was conducted with the assistance of the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

The family of the Shawnee Mission South senior also sued Watkins in November.

Lisa Rodriguez is the afternoon newscaster for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @larodrig.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @andreatudhope.

Editor's note: This story was updated at 4:45 p.m., July 26.

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