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L.A. police officer convicted of fleeing after hitting pedestrians

October 7, 2010 |  4:15 pm

A Los Angeles police officer was convicted Thursday of leaving the scene of an accident and causing great bodily injury in a June 2008 hit-and-run in which his Hummer struck two pedestrians in a Saugus parking lot.

After 2 1/2 days of deliberation, a jury at the Norwalk courthouse convicted William J. Skett, 36, of the felony, and he faces up to six years in prison at his Jan. 13 sentencing. Skett, while still an officer, is presently on leave.

“The jurors saw the truth. He ran over these people and did not stay to help them,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Natalie Adomian of the Justice System Integrity Division.

Jurors, however, hung on a charge of driving under the influence causing injury. Skett was acquitted of a third felony count, driving with a 0.08% blood-alcohol level.

Skett was arrested in June 2008 at his home an hour after the pedestrians were injured and investigators traced his vehicle, which left at the scene.

Prosecutors say that delay in the arrest meant they were unable to convince jurors that Skett did not consume the alcohol once he was home. Witnesses saw Skett’s vehicle hit a man and woman as he backed out of a parking space.

Prosecutors alleged that Skett got out of his vehicle, saw the injured victims and fled the parking lot near Bouquet Canyon and Soledad Canyon roads, abandoning his vehicle. Skett’s attorney insisted his client was never the driver.

The woman who was hit, Susan Sims, suffered multiple broken ribs and collapsed lungs while the 65-year-old man received minor cuts and bruises.

Sheriff’s deputies quickly traced the abandoned Hummer to Skett, who denied he was driving the vehicle, they said.

Sims' son, Deputy Dist. Atty. Jon Hatemi, told The Times after the incident that Skett was a “coward” and  “disgrace to the Police Department.”

The trial was the second for Skett on the charges. A judge declared a mistrial in April when jurors deadlocked.

-- Richard Winton