Police searching for witnesses from minivan, bus seen driving nearby before fatal officer crash
Prince George's County police are still looking for the driver of a minivan who may have a crucial clue into what caused Officer Brennan Rabain to lose control of his cruiser early Saturday morning in Lanham.
Rabain was off duty and taking his girlfriend home when he crashed into a fence. His girlfriend survived, but the two-year veteran was killed.
Police think Officer Rabain may have been trying to stop a vehicle or at least slow it down as he drove along Greenbelt Road just after 3 a.m. Saturday.
Police released a video that shows a bus that was ahead of the officer's cruiser and a minivan driving to his left. But at this time, no one has come forward to tell police what may have happened.
The only witness, the officer's girlfriend, was interviewed by police on Sunday, but they are not sharing what she said at this time.
At the crash site, dozens of pieces of the ruined patrol car are scattered in every direction. Some of the pieces landed more than a hundred feet away.
The collision took the life of an officer who took possession of his take-home car two weeks ago.
So far, investigators have ruled out black ice as one possible cause for the wreck and the rest of the answers are still on hold.
At the crash scene on Monday, there were notes, a card, balloons and a teddy bear that are now making up a makeshift memorial. One woman stopped by to leave a note saying she went to school with Rabain.
Investigators are now keying in on the initial statement from the officer's girlfriend immediately after the crash.
"And the closest thing we could get from her was the vehicle was at a high rate of speed, the officer made a statement about this guy is going to kill someone, and what she thought was initiating an action to try to slow that car down or stop him, and just then, the car went out of control," Prince George's County Police Chief Mark Magaw said on Sunday.
Both air bags deployed in the cruiser, and police said on Monday that Officer Rabain made no broadcasts over his police radio before the wreck.
There was a dashcam in the vehicle, but it was not working.
"He was issued the vehicle on February 16th," said Chief Magaw. "It was inspected at that time or shortly after that on the 20th. And the video camera does not work. This video camera was one of the first series of cameras that we had. There aren't pieces to fix these cameras. We have a few of those on the department."
In video released by police that shows the moments before the crash, a bus precedes the cruiser through the intersection at Mandan Road, and then you see the cruiser on the right and a minivan in question on the left.
Prince George's County police have a long-standing policy on allowing officers to use their cruisers for personal use off duty if they live in the county. Officer Rabain was not violating that policy Saturday morning.
"It has always been a policy on the police department," Magaw said. "I have been on 32 years, and way before I came on, you could have family members in the cruiser off duty, and it was up to the discretion and judgment of the officer whether to take action while they had a family member in that cruiser."
At the Fraternal Order of Police lodge in Upper Marlboro on Monday, the county flag was at half-staff over the memorial for officers killed in the line of duty.
Some of you may be wondering why police did not immediately tell the public that Officer Rabain's girlfriend was riding in the cruiser with him. Chief MaGaw says that is on him and there are no secrets here. He said at the time they were still trying to confirm the woman's story.
Funeral arrangements for Officer Rabain were announced Monday night:
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Borgwardt Funeral Home
4400 Powder Mill Road
Beltsville, Maryland 20705
Thursday, March 12, 2015
Victory Christian Ministries
3911 Saint Barnabas Road
Temple Hills, Maryland 20746
A GoFundMe page has been created for Officer Rabain's daughter: http://www.gofundme.com/o5fh90