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Florissant man sentenced to life in prison, plus 13 years for fatally striking police officer in 2021 pursuit

The fallen officer’s mother said her son went to work every day to make the community safer.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill — A driver who fatally struck a police officer on the McKinley Bridge while trying to flee from police received a life sentence in prison and an additional 13 years Monday. 

According to a press release from the Office of the State’s Attorney in Madison County, the sentence was handed to Caleb L. Campbell, a 24-year-old Florissant man, for killing police officer Brian Pierce Jr.

Associate Judge Neil Schroeder’s sentence consisted of a term of natural life for first-degree murder, 10 years in prison for failure to report an accident involving injury or death and three years in prison for failure to stop following an accident involving injury or death, according to the release. 

In December, a jury convicted Campbell of first-degree murder. 

Testimony and evidence shown at trial by assistant state’s attorney Lauren Maricle and Ryan Kemper showed that Campbell was driving a red Dodge Charger at speeds up to 98 mph and attempting to elude police in the early-morning hours of Aug. 4, 2021.

His car struck officer Pierce, who was standing on the bridge after deploying a spike strip across the roadway, according to the release. Campbell had a handgun in the car and an active Missouri warrant for his arrest when he fled from a different Brooklyn officer who was attempting to stop him for traffic violations. 

Dash-camera video from the pursuit showed Campbell speeding through intersections, ignoring traffic control devices and speeding past other cars that stopped on the bridge. 

The other motorists stopped in the westbound lane of the bridge, behind the parked patrol cars of officer Pierce and a Venice police officer. 

Maricle argued Monday that a lengthy sentence was necessary, in part, to send a message that if you flee from police and end up killing someone, “you’re guilty of murder, and you’ll go to prison for a long time.” 

In sworn testimony at trial, a Brooklyn officer said roughly one in three attempted traffic stops in his jurisdiction results in the motorist attempting to flee across the McKinley Bridge. 

Related article: Fallen Brooklyn police officer's parents say he was living dream 

Related article: Illinois police officer hit, killed by car on McKinley Bridge

Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine said there is no sentence that could even begin to give them a sense that justice has been adequately served.

“Officer Pierce and his family will remain in our prayers,” Haine said. “As I’ve stressed before in this case, fleeing from the police is always wrong and dangerous, and if an officer dies as a result of such actions, those responsible for killing the officer will face murder charges. The loss felt by the family and loved ones of officer Pierce is unimaginable.”

In a victim-impact statement, Pierce’s sister, Alexis Castro, said her brother’s death has affected her entire family. “We all died that day,” she said. Castro also offered an apology to her brother’s partner. “I am so sorry for what you had to witness,” Castro said. 

Pierce’s mother, Tammy Pierce, also gave a victim-impact statement. She directly addressed Campbell. “You murdered an innocent man to save your own butt,” Tammy said. “Was it worth it?” Tammy thanked the victim advocate from the State’s Attorney’s Office who has “shed so many tears with us.” 

Tammy said that her son went to work every day with a goal of making the community safer for everyone. 

She looked at Campbell and said, “Today, Caleb, he won.” 

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