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.

Police Officer Charged: Justice for Ashley McIntosh, Kindergarten Teaching Assistant

Many of you shared your heartfelt condolences and your frustrations when I wrote about the tragic death of Ashley McIntosh, the beloved teaching assistant of my niece, Evie, and her kindergarten classmates. “Miss Mac,” as the children called her, was killed in a traffic accident when a police car collided with Ashley’s car. Witnesses had clearly seen the police car speeding without a siren, yet with lights, towards the intersection where Ashley was thrown from the car and killed. Here is the full Washington Post article.

Many of you signed the petition for Ashley McIntosh’s fair and speedy investigation. Thank you. Since my last posting on this topic, many people in the community came together to plant McIntosh trees in honor of Ashley. But time marched on and there were concerns of delays due to police involvement.

I received an email today detailing how things progressed, and I wanted to share it with you:

I thought you would like to know that the officer who hit Ashley McIntosh’s car was charged today with reckless driving. I am a lawyer in Fairfax and a lifelong resident here. This is the first time an officer has been charged with a crime for an act committed while on duty. We do have a new chief prosecutor here. There is a news release from the Fairfax County Police:

Fairfax County Police Department
Public Information Office
4100 Chain Bridge Road, Fairfax, Va. 22030
703-246-2253. TTY 703-204-2264. Fax 703-246-4253
FCPD-PIO@fairfaxcounty.gov
www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police
News Release: 08/045/2575/sb(2)
May 2, 2008

UPDATE – Officer Charged in Fatal Crash

On Friday, May 2, Officer Amanda Perry, 22, was charged with reckless driving after a review of the evidence by the Commonwealth’s Attorney. The charge stems from a fatal crash on Tuesday, February 12 at the intersection of Richmond Highway and Boswell Drive. Perry was issued a summons at police headquarters. Officer Perry remains on restricted duty pending the outcome of an internal administrative review.

UPDATE

The driver and sole occupant of the car involved in this crash has died of her injuries at Inova Fairfax Hospital. She has been identified as Ashley McIntosh, 33, of 1410 Oakbrooke Avenue in the Alexandria section of Fairfax County.

Colonel David M. Rohrer, Chief of the Fairfax County Police Department, issued the following statement:

I wish to express our condolences and heartfelt sympathy to Ms McIntosh’s family and friends on behalf of the Fairfax County Police Department and myself.

I also want to assure them and the citizens of Fairfax County that we are in the process of conducting a comprehensive, balanced, and fair investigation of this crash. In the days ahead, as we move forward in our investigation, we will also share our findings with the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

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Thank you for all of your support.