Officer in triple-fatal crash indicted for earlier road rage

WASHINGTON — An off-duty Takoma Park Police officer involved in a March 2015 crash that killed three people has been indicted for a 2014 road rage incident.

Officer Travis Ala, 28, has been indicted by a Prince George’s County grand jury on charges of first and second degree assault and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.

Prosecutors say on July 6, 2014, Ala was driving on Route 50 westbound in Bowie, when he encountered the victim’s car in the left hand lane. Angry that the victim’s car wasn’t traveling fast enough, Ala swerved around the vehicle, pulled in front of it and applied his brakes.

The victim’s car avoided Ala’s.  As the off-duty-officer’s car attempted to pass, a witness in the victim’s vehicle says Ala pulled out a black handgun and pointed it at them.

The victims began taking pictures of Ala, while pulling over to avoid him.

Eventually, Ala drove away. The victims were able to get Ala’s license plate number and police traced the vehicle to him.

It took Prince George’s County prosecutors almost a year to indict the off-duty officer.

In the meantime, in March 2015, Ala was involved in a three-vehicle crash on Route 50 in Annapolis, in which a father, daughter and friend were killed.

John Erzen, spokesperson for Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks, tells WTOP the investigation into the 2014 road rage incident was completed by Maryland State Police in April 2015 and the case was brought before a grand jury within statutory guidelines.

Takoma Park Police spokesperson Catherine Plevy tells WTOP immediately after the July 2014 incident, Ala was put on administrative leave.  However, with no charges filed, after a few months Ala was restored to  full duty.

At the time of the fatal Annapolis crash, which killed 19-year-old Susannah Badders, her 63-year-old father Raymond, as well as 19-year-old Jason Simpkins, Ala was off-duty, driving an unmarked Takoma Park Police vehicle.

Ala was transported by ambulance to the hospital, where he was treated and released. Two passengers in a third vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee, suffered minor injuries.

After the fatal crash, Ala was again placed on administrative leave, where he remains, Plevy says.

Maryland State Police tell WTOP they have not finished their investigation into the fatal March crash.

Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney spokesperson Heather Epkins says the agency will consider whether charging the officer is appropriate, after state police forward the results of their investigation.

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