Former Memphis Police Officer Alex Beard agreed to a plea deal in court Tuesday and was sentenced to six months in jail and six years probation for his role in an August 2012 double fatal traffic crash while he was on duty.
But the family of the victims who were present for the Shelby County Criminal Court hearing are not satisfied with the time he'll serve.
Beard was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of aggravated assault stemming from the Aug. 26, 2012 fatal crash at the intersection of E. H. Crump Boulevard and Walnut Street that killed 14-year-old Mackala Epps and Delores Epps, 53.
Beard, though, never turned on his siren nor emergency lights before the deadly crash.
It's said "revenge is a dish that's best served cold." But, in a court of law where feelings and emotions can be extremely high, "revenge" can run "white-hot" with anger for the families of those who are victimized by the loss of loved ones.
An hour before it was officially announced in the courtroom, the facial expressions of disgust and frustration were visible through the glass partition as Prosecutor Billy Bond explained to the family and friends of Michael Ross the bewildering direction justice would take on this day in Shelby county.
Unfortunately, his words only served to ignite their previously pent up rage.
"Six months? Six months for killing my whole entire family?," Ross exclaimed. "This ain't no kind of justice. This is injustice!"
"A person kills a dog got more time than that," said Sherry Farmer, Ross' family friend. "I just don't see it. I don't see the system as being right and fair."
By the time Beard faced Criminal Court Judge Bobby Carter, the tweet world had long since trumped the outcome. Beard's attorney, Leslie Ballin and Prosecutor Bond announced a settlement had been reached allowing Beard to plead guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of reckless aggravated assault, which led to the deaths of a teenager and her mother.
While on duty, Beard driving a marked police car with no siren or emergency lights on, rammed into the side of the vehicle carrying the victims and two other passengers. The data box inside the police cruiser clocked Beard driving at a speed of 94 miles per hour just five seconds before impact, 54 miles over the posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour at the intersection of Walnut and Crump.
Beard said at the time he was responding to a call from assistance from a fellow officer. In accepting a plea deal Beard faced a six year sentence that was reduced to six months in jail. After doing all of his time he will be placed on six years probation.
For attorneys in the case the settlement appeared to be a glass half empty, glass half full scenario.
"The sign of a good resolution is that neither side is totally satisfied with the result," Ballin said.
"If I were in their situation, I wouldn't think that it was justice either," Bond said. "But, under the law I think this the best resolution we could reach."
However, the embittered Ross family felt the word "resolution" was nothing less than prosecutorial betrayal to the memories of those they had lost.
"It's Amy Warrick (sic)! She's the D.A. She's calling the shots!," a frustrated Ross said. "She's calling the shots! She's letting this man walk away for killing a family. That's who's doing it!"
Beard will return and surrender himself to the county criminal court and go straight to jail Sept. 17.