Detroit Police officer ordered to stand trial in crash that killed attorney Cliff Woodards

Posted at 9:00 PM, Nov 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-01 21:00:44-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It was the first time Melissa Connelly-Woodards was seeing the police scout car and body cam videos from the night her dad was killed in a crash involving a marked Detroit Police vehicle that ran a red light.

"It's difficult. It's infuriating. It's heartbreaking," she said. "I'm approaching a holiday season without a parent."

On Monday, Detroit Police Officer Teaira Funderburg sat silent at the preliminary examination where 36th District Court Judge Kenneth King determined, after watching the police videos and listening to witness testimony, that there was enough evidence to order Funderburg to stand trial on charges of Involuntary Manslaughter and Willful Neglect of Duty.

In February, Funderburg was driving the scout vehicle with lights and sirens, rushing to assist officers believed to be in trouble because they were not responding to dispatchers.

Funderburg was driving on I-96 before exiting the freeway near Livernois, and while on the service drive, she was going nearly 60 mph as she began to approach a red light.

Her partner, Officer Megan Abrams who had just graduated from the police academy a month prior, was in the passenger seat and testified Monday that when she heard radio traffic that the officers were okay, she repeated it.

Abrams said she repeated what had just come over their police radio, that the officers were "secure."

But Abrams said Funderburg did not react and continued to drive over the speed limit despite the other officers no longer needing emergency assistance.

On the police video, you can see the red light in the distance as Officer Funderburg gets closer to the intersection.

Three seconds before impact, Funderburgs was traveling 59 mph.

A concrete median on the driver's side of the police vehicle appears to be blocking the view of traffic going south on West Chicago.

Funderburg's speed drops slightly as she continues to approach the light that is still red.

One-half second before the crash, Funderburg's speed is 56.1, according to the vehicle's data that also showed that is when she applied the brake.

At 47.1 mph, the police vehicle struck Woodard's car on the passenger side with such force that Funderburg and Abrams were unable to even open his vehicle after the crash.

At Monday's hearing, Funderburg's attorney tried to suggest that there was no proof that Woodards had a green light.

Judge King pushed back on that claim and so did the assistant prosecutor who pointed out that the glow of the green light for Woodards could be clearly seen on the police video.

At the end of the hearing, Judge King wasted no time pointing out multiple reasons why there was sufficient evidence to order the now-suspended officer to stand trial.

Click on the video to hear from the judge, Woodards' daughter, and Woodards' friend and family attorney, Arnold Reed.