Auxiliary officer acquitted in fatal chase

UPLANDS PARK, Mo. (AP) — A judge acquitted an auxiliary police officer from a St. Louis County village of charges that he was not licensed to act as a police officer when he chased a speeding car that caused a fatal accident.

Lamont Aikens was an auxiliary officer for Uplands Park when he chased the car into St. Louis on Dec. 3, 2009. That car hit another vehicle, killing 34-year-old Lashanna Snipes, a mother of four.

Aikens testified Friday that he believed he had full police powers if he was following the directions of a licensed officer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported (http://bit.ly/10ZtFfh ). As an auxiliary officer, Uplands Park policy allowed him to drive a patrol car if a licensed officer was beside him.

Prosecutors charged Aikens with knowingly holding the commission of a police officer without a valid license, a misdemeanor.

But defense attorney Bobby Bailey said his client was only "doing what he was told to do" during the chase.

After hearing four hours of testimony, Circuit Judge Dennis Smith acquitted Aikens.

Another former Uplands Park auxiliary officer, Kenneth Minner, who joined in the chase, pleaded guilty to the same charge Friday. The plea will be removed from his record if he successfully completes the terms of the plea deal.

In June 2012, a St. Louis jury returned a $3.1 million verdict against Uplands Park for Snipes' death.

Derion Henderson, who was driving the car Aikens was chasing, is serving 17 years in prison for second-degree murder and vehicle tampering.

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