HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A man has pleaded guilty to manslaughter charges in connection to a March 2022 crash that killed a Henrico County Police officer.
Jeffrey Adam Lankford was indicted by a grand jury on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, in connection to a crash that took place on Wednesday, March 30, 2022, which killed 24-year-old Trey Sutton, an officer with the Henrico County Police Division.
Lankford was reportedly driving a truck heading south on Chamberlayne Road when he ran a red light at high speeds and struck a Henrico Police cruiser heading west on Wilkinson Road.
Sutton was reportedly driving the police cruiser with another Henrico Police officer and an inmate being taken to Henrico County Jail West as passengers. All three occupants of the police cruiser were taken to the hospital, where Sutton died the next day. He had just graduated from the police academy about a month earlier.
On Tuesday, May 30, Lankford pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. He will serve two years with one year and ten months suspended for the involuntary manslaughter charge. A charge of reckless driving was dropped by the prosecution.
“This is not the exact result that the Commonwealth, the Sutton family, or Ms. Pierson, were hoping for,” said Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Taylor. “But as was explained to Judge Harris, there were two legal issues that would have been litigated, one of which deals with new science, and we, along with the Sutton family and Ms. Pierson, did not want to run the risk of not having the defendant be held accountable for Officer Sutton’s death.”
As part of the plea agreement, Lankford will have to complete 200 hours of community service and his driver’s license will be suspended for one year.
“While we are disappointed with the sentence, we know that no sentence will bring back Trey or ease our suffering,” said Sutton’s family in a statement. “We were hoping for more accountability in the outcome today, but sadly, we could not get that. There is, however, some satisfaction in knowing that Jeffery Lankford will be a convicted felon for the rest of his life.”
Sutton’s fiancé, Zoe Pierson, also wrote a statement, which she read in court Tuesday.
“There is not a day that goes by that we don’t imagine his voice, miss him on holidays, hear a song that reminds us of him, or that even his animals don’t expect him to walk in the door. Our families will never be the same,” Pierson said. “No matter what happened in this room today, you [the defendant] still have the opportunity to live a full life with family, a wife, children, grandchildren, and other luxuries that we and Trey will not receive. Our families will always think of that when we look at the empty seat at our dinner tables, the empty frames for photos of a wedding that had to be unraveled nine weeks before, the emptiness in our hearts for his absence and future.”