Philadelphia’s District Attorney was ordered by a court to reverse course and charge Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment in a major 2015 Amtrak derailment that killed eight people and injured more than 200, Philly.com reports. To avoid a conflict of interest, the District Attorney’s Office responded that it would refer the prosecution to the state attorney general. Municipal Judge Marsha Neifield issued the order after a request from lawyers for victims of the derailment. On Tuesday, the District Attorney’s Office said there was insufficient evidence to bring charges.
The statute of limitations for charges of reckless endangerment expires today. The decision not to prosecute “was a shock,” said former prosecutor Richard Sprague. “Can you imagine someone driving … at 100 miles per hour, hitting people, killing people, and the DA saying we don’t have a basis for prosecuting anybody?” Although it is unusual for a judge to order a prosecutor to file criminal charges, there is a basis in Pennsylvania law for the judiciary to step in and essentially take control of a criminal investigation, said Temple University law Prof. Jules Epstein.