One Philadelphia police officer is facing a homicide charge while another will soon lose his job as a result of a high-speed auto crash that claimed the life of a pedestrian near Northeast High School on Jan. 31.
Daniel Dimitri, 50, a chef at a seafood restaurant in Burholme, was on foot crossing the 1600 block of Cottman Ave. at about 11:30 a.m. when a private car driven by off-duty Police Officer Adam Soto struck him fatally. Soto was traveling eastbound on Cottman at more than 80 mph, District Attorney Seth Williams said. Dimitri died about an hour later at a local hospital.
During a three-month investigation, authorities determined that another off-duty cop, Tony Forest, was driving a second vehicle recklessly on Cottman in the same direction as Soto at the same time. A third officer was a passenger in Forest’s car. Investigators looked into whether the two drivers were racing.
Philly.com reported that Soto was accelerating just before he struck Dimitri, but Forest had stopped at a traffic light at the previous intersection.
Soto, 24, a three-year veteran of the police department assigned to the 24th district, was charged on April 26 with homicide by vehicle and involuntary manslaughter. He has been dismissed from the police force. Forest, 25, a three-year veteran assigned to the 14th district, was not charged criminally, but he was suspended for 30 days as a precursor to his dismissal for violations of the department’s code of conduct. ••
— William Kenny