Ashley McIntosh: Denied Justice for Deadly Car Crash with Police?

Ashley McIntosh: Justice Denied?

Dr. Robyn Silverman

Bad weather, No Siren, Red Light: A case of an Officer given preferential treatment? You Make the Call

As many of you know, my niece Evie and her schoolmates lost their beloved teaching assistant, Ashley McIntosh (affectionately known as Miss Mac), last February when a police officer, Amanda Perry, crashed into her Toyota sedan. The Fairfax County police officer, as witnessed by several onlookers, had driven through a red light with her emergency lights on but without a siren. Upon impact, Ashley was tragically ejected from the vehicle.

Although the officer had been charged with reckless driving in May, she was found not guilty last week to the shock of Ashley’s family and friends.

“Taking the totality of the circumstances I don’t find the evidence rises to a level that the driving was reckless.” — General District Judge Sarah L. Deneke

Witnesses all voiced that police officer Perry was driving at a speed close to 50 mph and spend through the intersection. Virginia law states that officers are actually not required to sound their sirens when they’re running red lights. (Clearly, this law needs to be amended as the practice resulted in a preventable deadly crash). Perry stated that she was indeed trying to turn on her siren while making herself aware of the traffic ahead of her but despite her efforts, “it did not come on.”

A video from officer Perry’s dashboard, which showed that the officer hit the brakes and turned on her emergency lights, was the key piece of evidence that prompted the not guilty verdict. Perry had perceived that the intersection was clear. For several seconds before the crash, the officer did not use her brakes or swerve. The light had been red for about 5 seconds prior to the crash. Perhaps not surprisingly, she claimed that McIntosh’s car “came out of nowhere.” Perry was going between 38-44 mph, according to crash experts, when the crash occurred. Perry was not seriously hurt but Ashley suffered fatal injuries that led to her death the following day.

“The judge saw the video and heard all the testimony and the judge found that that did not rise to the level of a conscious disregard for life, limb or property,” Ed Nuttall, defense attorney

Ashley McIntosh had her whole life ahead of her. She was loved by the children at Clermont Elementary School. She was engaged to the love of her life. She was young and contagiously happy.

Ashley’s supporters, many of whom signed the petition that begged for justice to be served despite the fact that an officer was involved which appeared to be delaying and swaying the process, are in shock. She has yet to apologize to the family. Perry has taken no responsibility whatsoever. Supporter recently commented on our blog about the outrage concerning the lack of outrage and the fact that Amanda Perry was allowed to leave the courtroom through a special entrance, without statement.

It is obvious that the reckless driving charge was a set up. It was a charge designed to placate Fx Co residents but it is a charge the Commonwealth’s Attorney knew could, and would, be defeated. A charge of running a red light was indisputable and would have certainly resulted in a conviction and would have paved the way for a wrongful death suit. Where is the outrage? Other than the Washington Post, I have not connected with any of the outrage this case deserves. –RT Greenwood

Now that the officer has been found “not guilty” of the absurdly low level charge DESPITE traversing the intersection at 45 mph with NO SIREN activated (to investigate shoplifting?), will you be following through to demand some independent oversight for the Fairfax County police, required to attain no more than a high school diploma in a county and state with NO independent Ethics Commission/No Inspector General and led (as “chiefs” of police) by a revolving door of insider males? Should the defendent have been allowed to leave the courtroom through a side door used by deputies? –C Green

Cindy Colasanto, Ashley’s grieving mother, read a statement prepared in the event of an unexpected acquittal.

“It’s beyond any understanding I have to think that an officer of the law, sworn to protect and defend us, is not held responsible for the irresponsible decision she made, responding to a call and resulting in the violent death of my daughter. Her misdeed has caused my family lifelong grief and a pain that we’ll never forget.”

The attorney for Officer Perry argued that the crash was the fault of Ashley. Ashley’s car was going about 22 to 26 mph through her green light.

“It’s clear from the video, Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle is not taking a left-hand turn. . . . The way in which Ms. McIntosh’s vehicle was driven was unforeseeable [to Officer Perry] and therefore the reason that this impact occurred.” –Edward Nuttall

NOTE: While Ashley’s light was definitely green and Officer Perry’s light was certainly red, police officers are exempt from the red light/green light law if their “speed is sufficiently reduced.” Of course, considering that they have due regard to the safety of persons and property.” However, the law states that the officers must have both their lights and their siren on, which was not the case here.

My deepest condolences to Ashley’s family and loved ones.

Do you think the officer was given the same treatment and verdict as a common citizen would be given? Voice your opinion.

15 Responses

  1. No. From what I read, she was going faster then she should’ve when preparing to pass the red light. Also she stated that her attention was divided between watching traffic and turning on the siren. Many accidents have happened because the drivers attention is diveded between the road and the radio dial, cell phone, conversation, map … etc.
    Personaly if it were having trouble with my siren, to alert traffic of my approach then I would have stopped at the light, and called in to report my delay. Especially if it was to an investigation for shoplifting.

  2. This decision is a disgrace. The Judge and defense attorney, and perhaps even the prosecutor, appear to take no heed of the fact that the weather that evening was easily the most dangerous of the year – extremely icy and slick (I know this because I was driving in Fairfax Cty that evening and got caught behind the accident, which was one of many that night). Driving 40 mph through a red light, without a siren, in those kinds of conditions, is self-evidently reckless.

  3. I am absolutely sickened by the results of the trial. Ashley deserved justice…but the Stafford county judge looked the other way in the face of overwhelming testimony and evidence. I have lost all faith in the justice system. This trial needs to be appealed and heard in front of a jury.

  4. Thank you Jennifer, Scott, and Jack for your comments thus far-

    Jennifer: I think your idea regarding the siren is a valid and important one– it seems almost “Hollywood reality show ridiculous” to simply say “it did not go on” and call it a legitimate excuse.

    Scott: Thank you for alerting us to the weather conditions. That certainly makes the situation even more alarming considering that the police officer should have been even more alert that usual. The typical “legal” exemptions that a police officer is given regarding red lights should not be leaned us in lieu of good sense and public safety– neither of which were used at this time.

    Jack: A jury would be a very good idea. Let these people hear what the people have to say– that’s what justice is all about. Thank you for your comment.

    Looking forward to hearing from you all again– as well as many more of you. Was the officer given biased treatment or was justice served?

    Dr. Robyn

  5. […] Ashley McIntosh: Denied Justice for Deadly Car Crash with Police? […]

  6. The ABC7 news story on this accident said that experts said weather was not a factor. Yet the judge’s verdict used the weather as a contributing factor. Was the judge listening to the evidence?

    By the way, the ace-in-the-hole for Fx Co Police is “sovereign immunity”. SI says that police and others are not responsible for life, limb, and property damage during the course of their duties with only a few exceptions. I know because the FX Co police hit me (I was not hurt) and that is what they used to avoid paying property damages (10,000+). As you might guess, Fx Co. uses SI as a cost containment tool as well!

    Until the Fx Co police are held accountable, these accidents will continue as the population density increases. This incident, while more severe and heartbreaking, is not the only instance of FCPD disregard for human life and property. Enough is enough.

    I would urge people to contact Jerry Hyland and demand that at minimum, police procedures be reviewed. Intersections must be cleared before driving through with lights and siren on. We the taxpayers are telling the FCPD to clear the intersections. If it means getting to the call 30 seconds later, we are saying “so be it.”

    No human being can be trained well enough to drive an automobile without complete focus. That includes the police who are driving at high rates of speed, going through red lights, etc. on calls. When a policeman is driving, procedures should call for the driver to have complete focus on that task. If the officer is alone, then only radio contact should be allowed.

  7. Like Cindy Colasanto, I lost a child. My son, Bobby, was 36 years old when he died three years ago. Not a day or a minute goes by when my heart doesn’t ache. Sometimes the pain is unbearable.
    Cindy is a friend of mine and together we understand like no others what the loss of as child means. In Bobby’s case, he was very sick, and I know that the doctors did all they could to keep him alive. But for Cindy and her family, there is no explanation as to why Ashley died nor is there any punishment for the responsible party. Knowing why a child dies, at the prime of hi/her life, somehow makes one’s grief slightly bearable. Dosen’t Cindy and her family deserve that the responsible party be held accountable? And doesn’t Ashley too?
    Fairfax County has failed to uphold its own law.

  8. The judge and police chief should be thrown out. The police officer discharged. She failed to perform her duty properly and she obviously showed a disregard for human life as poor Ashley ended up dying due to her actions. The siren should always be on especially if you watch that video. This is a whitwash by the police and judge. Sad example of justice. Rest In Peace Ashley. You deserved so much more than this.

  9. It is clear that this case is not closed– too many of us are still dissatisfied with the way the case was handled and the outcome set by the courts. Amazingly, the articles on Ashley here on my blog are still among the most popular even 3/4 of a year later. We all care– because we know in our hearts Ashley and her family have been double victims. All of you have alluded to the issues here–Ashley died prematurely AND although her death was clearly the fault of another, justice has not been served.

    Beyond that– even those of us who didn’t personally know Ashley– we know, that on that night, it could have been any one of us who was hit on that road. It could have been any one of our loved ones who didn’t come home. So this case is about all of us. When justice isn’t served it robs us all of our safety, our trust, and our comfort in the system that is supposed to protect and honor us all.

    Thank you RT, Ellie, and Chris, for offering your recent comments.

    Warm regards,

    Dr. Robyn

  10. […] font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”;} The courts ruled that the police officer, Amanda Perry, didn’t need to take any responsibility for crashing into a […]

  11. I don’t know why it’s not mandatory for an officer to have their siren on BEFORE they reach high rates of speed in Virginia.
    Here in Iowa, it is mandatory, because our officers are here to ‘protect and serve’ and if they don’t ensure the safety of the public around them, then they wouldn’t be doing their jobs.
    I would like to know if you have an online petition set up for Ashley, because I would more than gladly sign it.
    Her death was inexcusable….and should never have occurred.
    I think the family should appeal this maybe file a wrongful death suit on the department.
    That police officer had no business being in a cruiser with such little experience.
    My condolences to the family, friends, and students.

  12. Hello Lasha,

    Thank you for your kind response. Yes, we are all horrified with the way that the case was treated and what it says about our law enforcement.

    We’ll keep you posted if there is any progress in follow up suits.

    As far as a petition is concerned– there is one– however, it’s only valid for Virginia residents. I’m sure that the family and friends of Ashley would be touched that you would like to sign it as well.

    Thank you for your interest and your kindness-

    Dr. Robyn

  13. Well, that’s not fair about the petition.
    I’m sure more people from other states would be glad to sign it as well.
    I bear no ill will to the officer involved, but it’s ludicrus to think that if police officer is travelling at a high rate of speed in an intersection where visibility is hindered, then common sense would have told even a seasoned officer to turn the siren on.
    It’s an outrage that this kind of precautional measure isn’t mandatory in Virginia.
    No doubt the female officer has to live with this for the rest of her life, but there’s a family without a daughter, neice, sister, cousin, grandchild because of negligence.

    It could have been avoided all together if they would just take one day to make that one little thing required.

    Oh, it upsets me.

    I hope the family is doing well, aside from all this tragedy.

    I wish them a Merry Christmas as well.

    In Kindness,

  14. Thank you, Lasha, for your kindness. Yes, many of us would like to sign that petition. This tragedy strikes a nerve in all of us– because it can happen to any of us.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours,
    Dr. Robyn

  15. I am very sorry about the loss of this beautiful woman. I have met Judge Deneke on a few occassions and feel that she is an incompetent person. I feel that she gave the police officer special treatment because she is a police officer. Police officers are supposed to protect the public citizens. Just as Judge Deneke’s former position of Commonwealth Attorney, before she became Judge of Stafford County, was to protect the citizens. Judge Deneke gives preferential treatment to her associated people. I hope that you have taken this before a Jury, there is no way the outcome will be the same. I have filed a complaint against Judge Deneke for this same type of behavior. She looked the other way in my case because she was friends with the defendant’s mother. Who is the court clerk for Stafford County Courthouse.

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