Fresno Police detective charged in fatal pedestrian crash

Crime
April 05 2021 05:30 pm

FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — A Fresno Police detective was arrested Wednesday after an investigation found that he was texting and speeding during a fatal pedestrian crash in downtown Fresno that occurred in September, according to Fresno Police.

On Sept. 5 at 9:37 p.m., officers responded to a vehicle collision involving a pedestrian at Fresno and E streets, said Lt. Jeff La Blue. It was found that the driver involved in the wreck was identified as Detective Benito Soto and he was on-duty at the time and driving his assigned vehicle.

The pedestrian, identified as Jose Pulido, 51, was taken to Community Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

An investigation found that Pulido was crossing Fresno Street at E Street in a marked crosswalk against a red traffic or pedestrian signal, La Blue said. Soto drove through the green traffic signal at the intersection and struck Pulido in the crosswalk.

The investigation also found that Soto was driving between 29-42 mph in a 30 mph zone and was texting and driving at the time of the crash, Police said. Soto was likely distracted from seeing Pulido in the roadway.

The intersection is well lit and pedestrians are clearly discernable from a distance.

La Blue said investigators concluded the Soto should have been able to stop and avoid the crash.

The police department reported that it submitted the findings of its investigation to the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office with a request of charges against Soto for vehicular manslaughter, speed unsafe for conditions, fail to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and texting while driving.

The DA’s Office reported that it found sufficient evidence to pursue the charges against Soto.

On Wednesday, Soto was arrested on those charges, La Blue said. His police officer powers were suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case and the internal affairs investigation.

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