Investigation of Franklin County sheriff's pursuit, deadly crash clears deputy of wrongdoing

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ohio — The investigation of a December police pursuit that left two people dead has been completed.

Earlier this year, the Franklin County Sheriff's Office came under scrutiny for what some called its liberal pursuit policy. But an investigation clears this deputy of wrongdoing.

Police body camera video showed the horrific outcome on Dec. 9: A car on its side against a house, police working desperately to free two babies from the wreckage.

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The driver of the car 25-year-old Tavaughn Collins and his sister, 27-year-old Olivia Collins, died on scene. Her two children, ages 1 and 2, would miraculously be fine.

Now, for the first time, 10TV is getting a look at how this tragedy began, and the moment-by-moment decisions that followed.

As written in the completed crash investigation and documented on cruiser camera video, a Franklin County Sheriff's Deputy pulled Tavaughn Collins over for going 62 in a 45. After the deputy approached the car, Collins sped off.

The deputy pursues, reaching speeds of 108 mph, at points, into oncoming traffic. The pursuit continues onto James Road, where dash camera shows Collins' BMW roll out of control.

Collins and his sister were thrown from the car.

The report says two children "were located in the rear floorboards. Nobody in the vehicle was restrained with safety belts or car seats."

In February, before this investigation was complete, 10TV spoke with Sheriff Dallas Baldwin about this and other chases, and accusations that his pursuit policy was too lax and endangering the public.

Sheriff Baldwin: "I can tell you that I've reviewed the tapes numerous times, and that pursuit, in my opinion, the person that fled went so fast and so far, that the actions of our deputy didn't really matter a whole lot. The car got so far ahead."

Glenn McEntyre: "Those circumstances, this outcome and what started this, does that give you any pause?"

Sheriff Baldwin: "Oh a great deal. Any time somebody gets injured or killed out of a pursuit, whether or not they're the suspect or victim, it causes great concern for any of us in management in law enforcement. We don't want anyone to get injured. That's not why we pursue people."

Baldwin's investigators agreed, concluding:

"(The deputy) was a couple hundred yards behind the BMW... at the time of the crash. The (cruiser) never made contact with the BMW. Tavaughn Collins was extremely intoxicated from THC at the time of the crash. Tavaughn Collins is 100% at fault for this crash that caused the death of Olivia Collins and his self. This case is closed."

After 10TV's Investigation in February, Sheriff Baldwin "instructed his deputies that pursuits for solely minor violations were to discontinue."

In May, the sheriff told 10TV he is reviewing and developing a complete, updated pursuit policy.

The family of Tavaughn and Olivia Collins did not want to comment.

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