UPDATE: The attorneys wrapped up their questioning around 2 p.m. and Judge John S. Somers said he found there was enough evidence against Iqbal Singh to order him to stand trial on each of the four charges filed against him, including second-degree murder. The next hearing is set for Aug. 15.
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Bakersfield Police Department investigator said officers collected dash cam footage and surveillance video from a smoke shop after a head-on collision killed a 19-year-old woman and led to the arrest of a man on murder and street racing charges.
Given there are dozens of businesses and restaurants along the stretch of Panama Lane where the crash occurred, why wasn’t more video collected, asked defense attorney Tony Lidgett. He said he would have thought police would want as much evidence as possible to show whether a crime was committed or if the crash was simply an accident.
It would have been nice to get more video, Officer Zachary Burdick testified Thursday. But the manpower wasn’t available.
Burdick’s remarks came about 90 minutes into the preliminary hearing for Iqbal Singh, charged with second-degree murder, street racing and other offenses in the Feb. 2 crash that killed Bianca Flores, 19.
The hearing is in recess and will resume at 1:30 p.m. Once finished, Judge John S. Somers will rule on whether prosecutors have enough evidence to proceed to trial.
Singh, 35 at the time of the crash, is accused of racing a motorcycle on westbound Panama Lane before losing control of his Ford Mustang and traveling into the No. 1 eastbound lane, where he collided with a Ford Focus driven by Flores. The Focus became airborne, spun and hit a Kia Optima.
Flores died at the scene.
In his cross-examination of Burdick, Lidgett suggested the motorcycle cut Singh off and he swerved to avoid hitting the bike.
The motorcyclist has not been found.
Due to fire damage, the information in the Mustang’s event data recorder could not be downloaded, Burdick said. But change of velocity data and the weight of the vehicles were used to calculate the Mustang’s speed at 91 mph at impact.
Burdick testified he made other speed calculations using video obtained from the Smoke Station — located about two-tenths of a mile from the crash scene — that showed a white coupe and motorcycle traveling west shortly before the crash.
The vehicles appeared to be traveling about twice the speed of the flow of traffic, Burdick said, and he ultimately determined they were both going 85 mph.
A passenger in Flores’ vehicle said the Focus had been traveling 40 to 45 mph, and the driver of the Kia gave the same estimate for her vehicle, Burdick testified.
Lidgett questioned the speed estimates Burdick had for both his client and the other vehicles involved.
During cross-examination, he asked if Flores’ passenger hadn’t told him their speed was “unknown.” Burdick said the passenger may have said that but also said the Focus was traveling 40 to 45 mph.
And asked if the driver of the Kia reported the Focus was going between 50 to 55 mph, Burdick said he couldn’t recall if she said that as she had been interviewed by another officer at the scene.
Regarding Singh’s speed, Lidgett questioned why more video evidence wasn’t collected. He listed about a dozen businesses from Highway 99 to the area of the crash.
“But you didn’t collect any video from those stores, is that right?” Lidgett asked.
Burdick said that was correct.
Lidgett continued to press him on the failure to obtain more video, and Burdick said there are simply not enough officers. He then listed various police duties and said the department has a staffing shortage.
Under followup questioning by prosecutor William Schlaerth, the officer testified the area where the crash occurred is a residential neighborhood bordered by concrete walls. He said officers looked for surveillance cameras that would have captured the alleged speeders but didn’t find any.
The smoke shop was the closest building with a camera, Burdick said.