Authorities are waiting to charge the suspect in an alleged alcohol-related crash that killed a bicyclist in order to avoid double jeopardy, an investigator said Monday.
“It’s just because we want to make sure we have this guy charged properly with the most serious crime we can have him charged with,” said Lt. Mike Thompson of the Casper Police Department. “If charged prematurely, he could plead out.”
The suspect, whom police have not identified, was involved in a Thursday morning crash that killed Matthew Harker, 39, of Casper.
Harker died of brain trauma at Swedish Medical Center in Denver on Friday, one day after he was hit by an SUV on First Street while riding his bicycle in downtown Casper.
Police took the SUV driver from the scene of the crash to Wyoming Medical Center, where blood and urine samples were collected to determine the level of alcohol or other controlled substances present in his system, said police chief Jim Wetzel. Police don't yet have the results of those tests.
Field sobriety tests were conducted before the man was transferred to the police station for an interview. A drug recognition expert also assessed the man, Wetzel said.
The driver was released after being detained for about five hours, Thompson said.
“That was just to interview him, to find out what his story is and sort through everything,” Thompson said.
Thompson said the Natrona County District Attorney’s office is conducting a crash investigation. Police are waiting for the DA’s office to make a determination of charges before they issue a warrant for the man’s arrest.
“They’re sorting it out and seeing what they want to charge him with,” Thompson said. “That’s entirely up to them.”