Jalina Anglin’s family wants Auburndale police sergeant fired following fatal crash

The family of a 5-year-old child killed in a crash with an Auburndale police officer last month is now calling for the officer’s termination.

On Monday, Jalina Anglin‘s family took part in a press conference alongside members of Black Lives Matter Restoration Inc. and the Poor and Minority Justice Association.

Organizers say they’ve found several discrepancies with the crash report and official statements issued by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the fatal officer-involved incident. 

According to a release issued ahead of Monday night’s press conference, Auburndale Police Sergeant Danny Swann was driving recklessly and exceeding speeds of 85 miles an hour when he ran a red light at US 92 and Havendale Boulevard and crashed into a vehicle Jalina and Jermanica Anglin were in on November 25.

Pictured: Jalina Anglin

Pictured: Jalina Anglin 

"If no consequences happen, he's going to continue to think he wasn't at fault," said Daniel Harrell, Jalina's father. "He's going to genuinely think what I'm doing is not wrong, so somebody else's mother or grandma is going to be hurt, so he has to be held accountable." 

Jalina's grandmother, Latrice McKinnis, spoke at the press conference and said the child was with her when her mom picked her up. She said just 10-15 minutes later, she got a call from her son saying she wasn't breathing. 

McKinnis said she shared a special bond with her granddaughter, and the last nine days without Jalina have been extremely difficult. 

"I don’t have my Lina no more," McKinnis said. "Lina called me ‘Nanner,’ because she couldn’t pronounce ‘Nana.’"

Jalina's grandmother went on to say, "I always would say to her, ‘Nana loves you unconditionally, forever. And that would be my last words to her, ‘Unconditionally, forever, Nana will always love you.'"

The family is also calling for the Justice Department to take over the investigation, citing "strong credibility concerns" with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. Pastor Carl Soto, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Restoration, Inc., says he wrote a letter to the DOJ requesting its involvement and investigation into the crash.

RELATED: Family mourns loss of 5-year-old girl killed in crash involving Auburndale police truck

In a media release issued after the crash, the Polk County Sheriff's Office said Swann was actively responding to a call with his emergency sirens and lights activated when Jermanica Anglin pulled into the intersection and was struck. 

Pictured: Jalina Anglin

Pictured: Jalina Anglin 

"This excuse does not excuse Sergeant Swann's decision to run a red light speeding at a high rate of speed using his patrol truck as a bulldozer that ran and slammed into a vehicle occupying a child and her mother," said Pastor Carl Soto, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Restoration, Inc.

In their release, organizers say the sheriff’s office has not provided evidence to show Swann was indeed responding to a call at the time. 

"We want justice," McKinnis said. "Jalina was a bright, intelligent young girl that was taken from us because of the negligence of a driver who was an officer."

The family also says Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd made "unfounded and inflammatory" remarks to the media, calling into question whether Jalina was wearing a seat belt. 

Harrell told FOX 13 his daughter had clearly visible injuries from her seat belt.

Sheriff's deputy stands near scene of fatal crash. Image is courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's deputy stands near scene of fatal crash. Image is courtesy of the Polk County Sheriff's Office. 

"Sheriff Judd's inflammatory remarks prove of his inability to accept responsibility for Sergeant Swann's negligent actions, and we are concerned for the integrity of the investigation due to strong credibility concerns of the Polk County Sheriff's Office," organizers stated in their release. 

Sheriff Judd issued the following statement Monday:

"Here we go again with the PMJA making false accusations and inflammatory statements. This fatal crash investigation by our Traffic Homicide Unit, which is the very best in the business, is still ongoing. Once the investigation is complete, the full report will be available for inspection under Florida’s public records laws. As we do with all traffic crashes, we release very preliminary information to the media and the public as quickly as possible. To suggest any nefarious conduct by law enforcement is outrageous, and once again diminishes the PMJA’s credibility." 

One of the leaders with the Poor and Minority Justice Association addressed Sheriff Judd’s response to criticisms.

"I don’t think it’s an inflammatory statement just to request transparency, and that’s what I requested," Dr. Clayton Cowart, with the Poor and Minority Justice Association, said.

Auburndale Police Chief Terry Storie also released the following statement: 

"While my deepest sympathies and prayers go out to everyone negatively impacted in this tragic accident, it is prudent for us to wait until all investigations are completed, and all facts are gathered in the case before we will make any statements. Sergeant Swan is on administrative leave."

A spokesman for the Auburndale Police Department says it is protocol for the officer to be placed on administrative leave.