Andria Heese, 28, was charged Monday with first-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Gabriella Curry

By Christine Pelisek
January 02, 2020 02:53 PM
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A Missouri police officer, who fatally struck a four-year-old girl with the police cruiser she was driving, has been charged in the child’s death.

Andria Heese, 28, was charged Monday with first-degree involuntary manslaughter in the death of Gabriella Curry.

The charges came almost one year after the Jan. 4, 2019 fatal incident.

“When you are dealing with vehicle fatalities, especially ones that are of this magnitude, it is not a simple ‘he said, she said,’” Camden County prosecutor Heather Miller tells PEOPLE. “You are dealing with reconstruction, you are dealing with forensic examinations, the black boxes of the vehicles. We look at all the forensic evidence we can gather. We try to make sure our cases are as ready to go as we can be.”

“The legal process is unfortunately not a quick one and it is extremely emotionally taxing to the families, so my office feels it is very important to keep in contact with the families to make sure they know what is going on,” she adds.

Andria Heese
| Credit: Twitter

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According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, Heese struck the child about 4 p.m. Jan. 4 when she drove her patrol SUV onto the sidewalk to monitor the afternoon school buses near the front of Battle High School.

The girl’s mother was a bus driver for the Columbia school district and had taken her daughter with her on her afternoon bus route, the Tribune reports.

Heese, a five-year veteran with the Columbia Police Department, was working the traffic detail at the school when the tragedy occurred.

After the child was struck, Heese and another officer, as well as school personnel, began providing immediate medical care, but the child later died at the hospital, according to a Columbia Police Department press release.

Heese was put on paid administrative leave after the girl’s death, according to the Columbia Police Department.

In May, the city of Columbia settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Gabriella’s parents Aaron and Cheyenne Curry for $3.4 million, KOMU reports. Columbia Public Schools also agreed to pay the family a $125,000 settlement, ABC17 reports.

Heese has yet to be arraigned or enter a plea to the class C felony charge. It is unclear if she has an attorney who could comment on her behalf.