Traffic Investigator Said Motorist Who Fatally Struck Officer Galinger Was Straddling Center Line, Driving Fast

Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Attorneys confer with Judge Don Poole
Attorneys confer with Judge Don Poole

Traffic investigator Joe Warren told a Criminal Court jury from Nashville on Wednesday that the motorist who struck and killed rookie police officer Nicholas Galinger was straddling the center line of Hamill Road and traveling at an excessive speed.

Investigator Warren said the collision was a "roof vault" in which the victim is propelled over the roof of the vehicle. He said those type wrecks are most often seen on the interstate where there are high speeds.

He also said he knew excessive speed was involved because of the distance the body was thrown. The body was thrown 160 feet from the point of impact, landing at the edge of a yard near a driveway. Officer Galinger had been leaning over inspecting an overflowing manhole cover when he was hit.

Janet Hinds, the former Soddy Daisy postmaster, is standing trial for vehicular homicide and other charges in the courtroom of Judge Don Poole.

In other testimony on Wednesday, Mike Lyttle of the TBI Crime Lab estimated that the blood alcohol content of Ms. Hinds at the time of the wreck on the night of Feb. 22, 2019, was between .14 and .18.

He said he made that estimate based on the number of drinks Ms. Hinds had consumed at a Ringgold restaurant in the hours prior to the wreck. 

Director Lyttle acknowledged that it was the first time he had been asked to make such an estimate based on the number of drinks consumed.

Defense attorney Ben McGowan said the alcohol level would have been considerably less had the estimate include the actual weight of Ms. Hinds at the time - 168.6 pounds - rather than 150 pounds that was used.

Investigator Warren said there had been a frame barricade put up by city Public Works over the manhole. He said the light on the barricade was not flashing at the time.

He said another officer who was with officer Galinger had parked in a driveway nearby. He said that officer's flashing lights were not on, but he said that when motorists see flashing lights they can brake suddenly and cause more wrecks.

On the question of whether the officers at the scene should have been wearing illuminated vests, he said the policy is they should be worn when directing traffic or when an officer is going to be in the roadway working a traffic incident.

Investigator Warren said a key piece of evidence left at the scene was the front grille of a Honda CRV. He said he went to the home of Ms. Hinds at 207 Port Dr. the next day after another officer spotted a Honda CRV with major front end damage.

The investigator said the amount of the damage, including the shattered front windshield, illustrated the speed the car had been traveling. He said straight black marks on the hood were caused by items from the officer's tool belt.

Investigator Warren estimated that the Hinds vehicle was traveling between 49-53 miles per hour and likely faster.

He said officer Galinger did get hit by a second car.

Mark Hamilton of the District Attorney staff said the rain stopped just before the wreck. He said the Hinds vehicle could be seen going along Hamill Road on two nearby video systems - one at a residence at 2514 Hamill Road and another at the nearby Ministry Center.

There were two vehicles that passed ahead of the Hinds car.

Mr. Hamilton said video showed the Hinds car stop at the wreck scene, then take off.

An employee of EPB said at the time of the wreck there was a street light near the manhole that was outfitted with a high pressure sodium light bulb. She said that was later replaced by an LED light bulb that she said is more efficient.

Attorney McGowan showed an illustration depicting the LED bulb as much brighter than the sodium light bulb.

 

Attorney Ben McGowan addresses the judge
Attorney Ben McGowan addresses the judge

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