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LAPD officer convicted of fleeing scene of accident

William J. Skett, 36, faces up to six years in prison when he is sentenced for causing great bodily injury to two pedestrians with his Hummer in a Saugus parking lot in 2008.

October 08, 2010|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles police officer was convicted Thursday of leaving the scene of an accident and causing great bodily injury in a June 2008 hit-and-run in which his Hummer struck two pedestrians in a Saugus parking lot.

After 2 1/2 days of deliberations, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury in Norwalk convicted William J. Skett, 36, of the felony, and he faces up to six years in prison at his Jan. 13 sentencing. Skett, while still an officer, is presently on leave.

"The jurors saw the truth. He ran over these people and did not stay to help them," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Natalie Adomian of the Los Angeles County district attorney's Justice System Integrity Division.

Jurors, however, were divided on a charge of driving under the influence causing injury. Skett was acquitted of a third felony count, driving with a 0.08% blood-alcohol level.

Skett was arrested at his home an hour after the pedestrians were injured and investigators traced his Hummer, which left at the scene.

Prosecutors say that delay in the arrest meant they were unable to convince jurors that Skett did not consume the alcohol once he was home. Witnesses saw Skett's vehicle hit a man and woman at 2:30 a.m. as he backed out of a parking space in a lot near a restaurant and bar.

Prosecutors alleged that Skett got out of his vehicle, saw the injured victims and fled the parking lot near Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads, abandoning his Hummer. Skett's attorney insisted that his client was never the driver.

The woman who was hit, Susan Sims, then 62, suffered multiple broken ribs and collapsed lungs while the unidentified 65-year-old man suffered minor cuts and bruises.

Sheriff's deputies quickly traced the abandoned Hummer to Skett, who denied he was driving the vehicle, they said.

Sims' son, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jon Hatemi, told The Times after the incident that Skett was a "coward" and "disgrace to the Police Department."

The trial was the second for Skett on the charges. A judge declared a mistrial in April when jurors deadlocked.

richard.winton@latimes.com

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