LEE COUNTY, Fla. – The Lee County deputy, who hit and killed a Cape Coral teen, was found not guilty Wednesday, of an alleged traffic violation.
Deputy Douglas Hood was cited by Cape Coral police for failing to maintain his lane, ultimately causing him to hit and kill Austin Dukette in August 2014.
Several Cape Coral police officers testified in the traffic hearing Wednesday, to prove Hood deserved his ticket.
Officer Jason Wallace was the first officer to arrive on scene after Dukette was hit.
“I looked at the deputy and asked what was going on. He stopped pacing and looked at me and I kind of realized he looked like he was in shock,” said Wallace. “I don’t remember his exact words but it was something like it’s over there, something to the effect of ‘I think I killed him.”
Cape Coral police said Hood and Dukette were traveling in the same direction on Kismet Parkway when the deputy hit the teenager, throwing him off his bike and into the street.
Hood was in court Wednesday, facing fines and a license suspension.
Cape Coral Investigators originally said Hood was distracted adjusting his laptop.
They changed their mind last month, changing his offense to “failure to maintain a proper lane.”
The defense argued the deputy’s point of impact, showing Hood was not in his lane,was wrong. The defense said by police standards, Hood would have had to be driving in the grass to hit Dukette.
That argument brought tears from Dukette’s parents and grandparents, who were in the courtroom. Ultimately, the judge agreed with the defense.
Judge Frank Porter said the reason for his verdict was that there was not enough evidence to show Hood was driving outside his lane when he hit Dukette on his bike.
The not guilty ruling means Hood does not have to pay any fine, or lose his license.
The defense would not comment because of pending civil litigation from Dukette’s family.
The Dukette family was too distraught to go on camera, and released this statement through their lawyer, Randall Spivey.
The statement is below.