Brittany Stephens
Photo: Baton Rouge, La., Police Department

A Baton Rouge, La., police officer was arrested almost two weeks ago on charges of negligent homicide after being accused of causing a crash that killed a 1-year-old infant and injured multiple other people.

Normally, one would think that the story would end there, with the officer going to trial and facing whatever repercussions were deemed appropriate. However, this week, according to The Advocate, the child’s mother was also arrested on the exact same charge after police accused her of contributing to the death by failing to properly secure the baby, Seyaira Stephens, in her car seat.

Mom Brittany Stephens, 20, was arrested Tuesday after police apparently discovered that her daughter’s car seat had not been secured and the straps not adjusted to fit Seyaira’s height. Police said that the “lack of securing the seat to the vehicle and the loose straps are a contributing factor in the death” of the baby and show “gross negligence.”

Stephens was not driving the vehicle when the crash occurred, but told officers that she had secured the car seat with the baby inside. Police say otherwise, and police spokesperson Sgt. L’Jean McKneely said that because of this, Stephens was arrested as “the person responsible for the buckling of the car seat.”

She was subsequently booked on one count of negligent homicide and seat belt violation. The three other adults who were in the car with Stephens at the time of the crash were also given traffic citations. McKneely said that more people were riding in the vehicle than seats available.


From The Advocate:

Breea Gross, 18, was driving when the crash occurred and was cited for driving without a license, seat belt violation and three counts of child safety restraint violation. Janice Gross, 40, was cited for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive her vehicle and seat belt violation. Seth Eames, 23, also cited for seat belt violation.

The fatal crash occurred around 8 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2017, after authorities say Police Officer Christopher Manuel, driving a Corvette off-duty at 94 mph, slammed into the passenger side of the Nissan, which was carrying a total of four adults and four children.


Police Officer Christopher Manuel
Photo: Baton Rouge, La., Police Department

The speed limit in the area is 50 mph.

All of the Nissan’s occupants were transported to the hospital for injuries. Seyaira later died.


Manuel, 28, was ultimately arrested on Feb. 16 on charges of negligent homicide and speeding. He has been on paid administrative leave since the accident and has been walking free after posting $15,000 bail on the day he was booked.

Baton Rouge police say that a blood test showed Manuel was not impaired at the time of the crash.

Despite the arrests, East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Tuesday that his office has not yet decided whether Stephens or Manuel will formally face charges, saying only that prosecutors “will review all reports, charges and arrests and make the appropriate decisions based upon facts and law.”


Stephens has since also posted her $3,600 bond and was released from jail by Wednesday morning.