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Bush cousin is cleared in officer's death

HARTFORD -- A federal appeals court judge who is a cousin of President Bush has been cleared of criminal wrongdoing in an accident that killed a New Haven police officer in October.

John M. Walker Jr., a senior judge on the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, was driving a sport utility vehicle that struck Officer Dan Picagli while he was directing traffic at a construction site.

New Haven State's Attorney Michael Dearington released a report yesterday saying that there was no evidence of negligence by Walker.

"All witness accounts and information gathered by police through their investigation confirms that there is no evidence of erratic or impaired driving by Mr. Walker," Dearington wrote.

It was dark and raining at the time of the accident, and visibility was limited because of dim street lights, Dearington said. Picagli was standing in the middle of Chapel Street near Academy Street when Walker's SUV struck him on Oct. 17, the report said.

Walker was driving about 25 miles per hour and was briefly distracted by construction activity to his left, Dearington said.