By Kantele Franko and Andrew Welsh-Huggins
UPPER ARLINGTON: A police cruiser responding to a robbery report with its lights flashing and siren blaring struck a car at an intersection just northwest of Ohio’s capital early Friday, killing six members of a family and injuring an officer, officials said.
Police said dash-camera video from the cruiser shows the victims’ Toyota Corolla had a red light when it entered the intersection and came to a complete stop just before the crash.
The officer from the Columbus suburb of Upper Arlington was responding to a reported armed robbery at a fast-food restaurant when the crash occurred around 1:30 a.m. at a large intersection with traffic lights, investigators said.
The cruiser was one of an unspecified number of police cars responding to the robbery, all with their lights on and sirens activated, said Upper Arlington police officer and spokeswoman Heather Galli.
A Columbus man was driving the other car, with his wife in the front passenger seat and four daughters, including a toddler, in the back seat, said Chief Robert Oppenheimer of Perry Township police. None were wearing a seat belt, and the youngest daughter was not in a child restraint, he said.
“That car was just totaled, and they probably died instantly,” Oppenheimer said.
Oppenheimer identified them as driver Eid Badi Shahad, 39; Entisar W. Hameed, 31; Shuaa Badi, 16; Amna Badi, 14; Ekbal Badi, 12; and Lina Badi, 2.
Franklin County coroner Jan Gorniak said an autopsy would be performed on the driver soon. She said autopsies won’t be performed on the passengers because of religious objections.
The officer, who had been traveling alone, was being treated for a serious head injury at a hospital but was in stable condition, said Jason Pappas, head of the local police union.
Upper Arlington police identified the officer as Shawn Paynter, who joined the department five years ago and had been on the overnight shift about a year.
Oppenheimer said the officer was in shock after learning about the deaths.
He said a Columbus police accident investigation team pulled the dash-camera video from the cruiser. He said the footage shows the cruiser entering the intersection just as the light was turning from green to yellow.
The victims’ car entered on a red light, Oppenheimer said, and then came to a complete stop in the middle of the intersection before it was hit.
“One could speculate that he may have realized he ran the red light and was going to back up,” Oppenheimer said. “Or ... he froze.”