On the evening of October 12, 2017, Baton Rouge police officer Christopher Manuel was out driving wildly while off-duty. He was going 94 mph in his Corvette when he crashed into a Nissan carrying four children and four adults. Unfortunately, the crash was tragic, claiming the life of one-year-old Seyaira Stephens. Manuel was arrested on February 16 on single charges of negligent homicide and speeding (a blood test showed he was not intoxicated at the time of the crash).
However, in an unfortunate turn of events, on Tuesday, young Seyaira’s mother, 20-year-old Brittany Stephens was also booked. According to The Advocate, “police found that her daughter’s car seat was not secured and the straps were not adjusted correctly for the child’s height.” The police report states, the “lack of securing the seat to the vehicle and the loose straps are a contributing factor in the death” of the child and “show gross negligence” on behalf of her mother.
Stephens was not the one driving the car, but she told police that she was the one to secure the baby into the car seat. Police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McKneely explained that she was arrested because she “was the person responsible for the buckling of the car seat.” Stephens was booked into Parish Prison on charges of negligent homicide and seat belt violation.
Stephens wasn’t the only one who caught charges. The other adult occupants of the vehicle were also charged and issued citations. The Advocate reports:
Breea Gross, 18, was driving when the crash occurred and was cited for driving without a license, seat belt violation and three counts of child safety restraint violation. Janice Gross, 40, was cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive her vehicle and seat belt violation. Seth Eames, 23, also cited for seat belt violation.
Stephens was released this morning on $3,600 bond. Since his arrest, Officer Manuel was released on the same day he was booked, after posting $15,000 bail. He has been on administrative leave from the department since the accident. East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said that he is not sure whether either party will face charges, but prosecutors “will review all reports, charges and arrests and make the appropriate decisions based upon facts and law.”