Defendant's Website Threatened with Shutdown
The sole survivor of the car crash at Chevy Chase Circle on March 23, 2012, has been charged with stealing the car. He's suing the police for crashing it, and his website has been threatened with a shutdown.
Original post (Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012): If you believed yourself to be wrongly accused of a crime, what would you do?
Perhaps you might set up a website to tell your side of the story, like Reeco Richardson and his attorneys have done.
Richardson—of Washington, DC—is the only survivor of a March 23, 2012, car crash at Chevy Chase Circle that killed three young men from Washington, DC: the driver of the vehicle and the two rear-seat passengers. The car crashed into a tree at Chevy Chase Circle and burst into flames, according to the Montgomery County Police Department. The tree, which was already diseased before it was burnt, was later removed.
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Richardson—18 at the time of the crash—was treated after the crash at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries, and was charged on April 24 with stealing the Toyota Echo that crashed. Rogue and vagabond charges also were applied. Richardson was released on his own recognizance following processing, according to the Montgomery County Police Department.
Shortly after his release, Richardson sued the police for allegedly ramming a police cruiser into the Toyota, thereby causing the Toyota to burst into flames. The website Justice for Reeco details this slightly different version of the chain of events on March 23:
As the Toyota entered Chevy Chase Circle, it slowed to 50 mph and came to a rest after sliding into a curb. As Reeco unbuckled his seatbelt to exit, members of the police caravan—continuing to travel at a high rate of speed—rammed into the vehicle. As a result of the violent collision, the Toyota became engulfed in flames. The two backseat passengers were burned alive and the operator of the vehicle passed away shortly after the incident due to head trauma he sustained at the time of the collision. Reeco was the lone survivor.
The website includes a video that the website has suggestively titled "Police On Board Camara Video of Collision with Plaintiff Reeco Richardson." The website also links to a press release in which Richardson's attorneys state that Richardson is legally blind, didn't know the car was stolen and couldn't read a police statement that he signed.
Montgomery County prosecutors are trying to shut down the website, and are "concerned that recordings and links [on the website] to social networking sites could influence the potential jury pool," The Washington Post reported.
Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Chaikin asked a judge, in a motion filed with the Montgomery County Circuit Court, to order the site to be closed because it contained information "highly likely to taint the jury pool and confuse potential jurors," the motion said, The Post reported.
Richardson's attorneys call the conflict over the website "a free speech issue." Richardson "is seeking a platform from which to respond to information police posted on the department’s official [website]," attorney Donald Huskey told The Post.
The criminal trial date is set to begin on Oct. 3, according to Richardson's website, which states that Richardson resides in Maryland and that he was "scheduled to graduate [from] high school in June 2012 with a 3.85 G.P.A. After graduation, Reeco plans to attend college where he will pursue his academic studies with the intent of becoming a lawyer."
How the crash happened, according to the police:
Shortly before 1 a.m. on March 23, 2012, an officer with the Montgomery County Police Department's second district saw a Toyota Echo near the intersection of Connecticut Avenue and East-West Highway. When the officer looked up the vehicle's license plate number on his computer, he discovered that the car was stolen, police said.
Before the officer attempted to stop the stolen car, the car sped up and headed south on Connecticut Avenue. As it entered Chevy Chase Circle, it struck the tree and started flaming, police said.
Police used fire extinguishers to put out the fire. The driver and front-seat passenger were removed from the car before it was engulfed by flames, but the rear-seat passengers—Emanuel Demitrius Nelson, 16, and Tyree Dayon Nelson, 14, both of DC—could not be rescued, and were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver—16-year-old Reynard Osman of DC—later died as well, leaving Richardson as the sole survivor of the crash.
Do you think the website will influence jurors? Tell us in the comments.
Editor's note: The spelling "camara" is used in the title of the video "Police On Board Camara Video of Collision with Plaintiff Reeco Richardson" on the Justice fo Reeco website.