Deputy indicted for involuntary manslaughter months after deadly crash during high-speed chase

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Thursday, May 18, 2023
NC deputy indicted months after deadly high-speed crash
Harnett County Deputy Kevin Latarte is facing charges in the death of a couple who died when he crashed into their truck during a high speed chase.

SPRING LAKE, N.C. (WTVD) -- A Harnett County deputy is facing charges in the death of a couple who died when he crashed into their truck during a high-speed chase.

The crash happened on March 3 while deputy Kevin Latarte was chasing after a suspect's vehicle. Investigators said the chase started when Latarte tried to make a traffic stop. The official crash report stated that Latarte did have his lights and siren turned on during the pursuit.

Latarte and the suspect were reportedly traveling at speeds up toward 95 miles per hour. They were heading south on NC-210 when the crash happened.

The crash report states that the suspect sped through a traffic light for Ray Road as the light cycled from yellow to red.

A 2015 Dodge Ram pickup truck began moving forward across the intersection when the traffic light cycled to green. Latarte in his sheriff's department vehicle then slammed into that pickup truck at 77 miles per hour.

Brian Finch and Patricia Finch of Minnesota were in the pickup truck. They were in town visiting friends. They died in the crash.

Elizabeth and Alan Longman were outside the Harnett County Courthouse on Thursday protesting that the charges against Latarte were not harsh enough.

"This is a gross miscarriage of justice in Harnett," Elizabeth said.

The suspect, Jimmy Lewis White Jr., in the high-speed chase continued on. He was later caught and arrested on charges of aggravated fleeing to elude arrest.

Latarte was indicted on May 15 for felony involuntary manslaughter. He turned himself in on May 16 and received a $5,000 bond.

His first court appearance is scheduled for May 22.

"I can tell you that he is deeply sad for the family and the loss of life, and he is struggling throughout this process as you probably expect anybody to struggle," Latarte's attorney Parrish Daughtry said.

ABC11's I-Team took a deeper look at crashes involving Harnett County sheriff deputies. The numbers show the incidents are costing tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars. The I-Team obtained liability claims from the county that detail more than a hundred vehicle accidents involving deputies between 2012 and 2022.

The Harnett County Sheriff's Office has incurred at least $800,000 worth of liability claims related to auto accidents over the last decade, documents reveal.

Harnett County Sheriff's Office told ABC11 that its policy states that deputies should consider speed and the public's safety when deciding if they should initiate or continue a chase.