Officer was responding to domestic call before fatal pedestrian crash
Posted July 25, 2018 5:14 a.m. EDT
Updated July 25, 2018 6:54 p.m. EDT
Fayetteville, N.C. — A man was killed late Tuesday after being struck by a police car on a dark road, Fayetteville police said in a press conference on Wednesday.
Fayetteville Police Chief Gina Hawkins identified the pedestrian as 55-year-old Gregory Graham, of Fayetteville. According to Hawkins, Graham stepped into the path of a patrol car driven by Officer Ashton Lambert around 11:55 p.m. on Raeford Road near the Sandalwood Drive intersection.
Graham died at the scene, and Lambert did not suffer any injuries.
"For him to be taken away like this, this is just unexpected," Graham's son, Mark Graham, said. "He was a good man. He raised three boys by himself, he worked hard. He did anything in the world for us, man."
According to Mark Graham, Tuesday's incident was not the first time his father had been hit by a car.
"An Olds had run into the back of him on his moped and he got pretty beat up on that and he was just recovering from it," Mark Graham said.
Mark Graham said his father had to use a cane after the moped crash and he was surprised Lambert didn't see him.
Hawkins said Lambert was not distracted before the crash and that dash-cam video shows the victim appearing out of nowhere.
"[Lambert] was traveling in the center lane. As I said before, he had other vehicles beside him. In the darkest portion of that road, approximately 150 years, there were no lights and Mr. Graham appeared in front of his vehicle in a split second," she said.
Hawkins said that Lambert tried to maneuver to avoid hitting Graham, who was wearing dark clothes. She added that another witness stopped to help Lambert, who called an ambulance before getting out of his car to render aid.
Lambert, a 25-year-old officer who has been with the department less than a year, was placed on administrative duty following the crash as is standard procedure.
According to Hawkins, Lambert was responding to a domestic violence call with a possible gun when he hit Graham. Lambert was going approximately 5 to 8 mph over the speed limit, Hawkins said, in an attempt to respond quickly.
Hawkins said Lambert received the call around 11:51 p.m. and that the fatality occurred around 11:53 p.m.
Hawkins also said that Tuesday was Lambert's first night on patrol by himself.
"Although Officer Lambert was a brand new officer, the way he responded and reacted, he could have had 20 years [of experience]," said Hawkins. "The officer was not distracted, he actually had his hands on the 10 and 2 positions of the steering wheel. Graham appeared in front of his vehicle in the darkest portion of that road."
The investigation is pending.