Jelani Prather, MPD officer, killed in I-270 car crash

A D.C. police officer was killed in a crash on I-270 Friday.

Officer Jelani Prather of the Metropolitan Police Department’s Fifth District died from his injuries. He was off duty at the time of the accident, MPD said. Police say Prather’s car slammed into a tanker truck on the shoulder, apparently without braking.

The crash happened shortly after 12:45 p.m. on I-270 just south of the Falls Road exit. Preliminary investigation showed the driver of the tanker truck pulled over to the right shoulder to check an equipment problem, police said in a news release. The driver, Antonio Donnell Lucas of Clinton, Md., got out of the cab to check. When he returned, he saw a Scion XB approaching on the right shoulder.

Lucas stated he put his truck in drive, honked the air horn and tried to drive away to avoid a collision. But the Scion struck the rear of the truck.

Both vehicles sled on the shoulder for about 75'. The Freightliner truck's bumper crashed over the Scion's engine block and into the passenger compartment, killing driver Prather.

Because there were no skid marks on the road, police think Prather may not have hit the brakes before the collision. A witness said that his Scion did not brake or swerve.

No charges have been sought in this case and the investigation into this incident is on going.

Officer Prather was a motorcycle officer on the evening shift. He “was much loved by his colleagues here at 5D as well as those he served in the community,” Commander Andy Solberg said in a note released by police.

Prather joined the MPD in Sept. 2001.

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