Questions Linger After Cop’s Vehicular Homicide Charge

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WILLIAMSPORT — There are more questions about the crash that killed one man, and left a Williamsport police officer charged with homicide by vehicle.

At first glance, the case against Officer Jonathan Deprenda seems simple. Authorities say he was driving his cruiser at more than 100 miles per hour on a city street, while responding to another chase that had ended.

We wanted to find the answers to two questions concerning the case against Officer Deprenda: did he hear the radio call that ended the pursuit, and once his cruiser collided with James Robinson’s car, how long did it take for the officer to call in the crash?

Court papers related to the homicide by vehicle case against Officer Deprenda answer some questions but raise others.

He’s charged in connection with the January 12 crash that killed James Robinson, 42, of Williamsport.

Investigators say on that night, Officer Deprenda had been driving on East Third Street, passing vehicles at speeds that topped 100 miles an hour as he responded to help a fellow officer involved in a pursuit.

Newswatch 16 drove the route Officer Deprenda took that night.  He started on Maynard Street and court papers say the deadly crash at East Third and Railway Streets happened about two and a half minutes later.

We drove the same route going the posted speed limit of 35.  It took us just over five minutes.

At a news conference on Tuesday, investigators said the pursuit was called off nearly one minute before Officer Deprenda called in the crash.

But some questions remain.

Did Officer Deprenda hear the radio call that ended the pursuit?  And how soon after the crash did he call it in?

Lycoming County District Attorney Eric Linhardt says he is not allowed to speak to facts that are outside of public record.

He says in an email, “the questions you ask are good ones, and ones no doubt the jury will ask as well.”

Officer Deprenda was released on $25,000 bail. He is suspended with pay from the Williamsport police department.

Some callers to Talkback 16 had questions about that.

Williamsport Mayor Gabe Campana says the law requires Deprenda to be paid while an internal investigation is ongoing.


  • Pearl

    Proceed with caution. Proceed with caution. And please don’t insult the cowboys….this out of control cop wasn’t riding a horse.

  • Rich Snyder

    And by the way “paid suspension” …THAT “law” needs to be changed…If you are under investigation…NO PAY…If you are found NOT GUILTY then you get paid…NOT until!

  • Rich Snyder

    $25,000 bail…I’ve seen theft bails WAY HIGHER..I mean come on, such a low bail for a homicide? Who gets that low a bail?…Oh that’s right he’s in tight with the judge. He should be tried in another county as this stinks of “Conflict of Interest” as he works closely with this court!

  • janett

    I’d like to say I hope in a way that cop is thinking of what he did:: he took a good honest friend from me and to mind that cop gets what he deserved

  • ken b

    If it wasn’t for the excellent reporting by the Sun-Gazette and local TV stations such as WNEP and WBRE, this would have been swept under the rug. Thank God it wasn’t

    • richard e lesh

      Yes, quick story back in the day two of our officers were chasing a Volkswagen. Picture this a 440 police cruiser engine in a Dodge vehicle.
      17 year old kid driving the v w. his crime? driving with a suspended license.
      The officers knew this and they knew the kid. He out maneuvered them. One officer took his 357 magnum shot the engine out. Think about it suppose… and it was real possible.. he killed the kid. That is why I have no remorse for cowboy cops. by the way the department paid hell for that. and the cops? just got their wrists slapped.

  • laura

    Regarding all the winner babys. If you see an Emergency Vehical You should Pull Over many times I have seen No one pull over for police trying to get to a call with there light on, should not matter how fast there going. THERE DOING THE BEST THAT THEY CAN. HOW DO WE KNOW THE OTHER DRIVER WAS PAYING ATTENTION. GOD HAS THAT.

    • richard e lesh

      Yes! and that is the very reason the officers need to pay attention and slow down. Reckless driving is reckless no matter who is behind the wheel.

    • Raul Duke

      Please Laura, learn to write before posting again or dictate and have someone write for you. I can’t even figure out what it is you’re trying to say. Gibberish.

  • Tammy Kirkpatrick

    I have no doubt that the officer in question feels horrible about the life that was lost due to his recklessness, and he has to live with that forever. I am sure that was not what he intended and I’m sure he wishes he could change that. However, that being said, it is good to see a police officer held to the same standards anyone else would be if they had recklessly killed another human being with their vehicle. As Sorry as I’m sure he is, I I Hope he receives the same punishment as a regular citizen would under these circumstances. Police are not above the law and I’m glad action was taken. Sorry for all involved.

    • richard e lesh

      I can only speak for myself I have worked with a lot of police officers that think they are above the law. I have always felt I cannot.. in good conscience enforce laws if I don’t set the example and obey them myself. I can tell first hand that a lot of officers in that situation are governed by a rush of adrenalin. Especially those that are new to the job.
      Even old timers need to slow down and always review the situation.

      I was in a high speed chase gun battle, Your mind is going a 1000 miles an hour. BUT!, at the same time you must be aware of your actions. A few years back a State trooper got himself killed for no reason at all.

  • richard e lesh

    Regarding the police officer in the crash that killed a man. He should be fired and run through the court system. His lack of judgment and recklessness, is uncalled for.
    Carrying gun and a badge doe’s not make a police officer. His cowboy actions were outrageous.
    I can speak from authority because I was police officer in high speed chases. Each chase is dictated by the severity of the event. AND ! every bit of caution /common sense needs to be at the forefront. With no life in danger than no need to speed. Even then speeding is not always the way to go. To those that want to defend him.? Would they do so if it was one of their own killed.?

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