ONTD Political

Pedestrian convicted of vehicular homicide of her child, could serve more time than hit & run driver

1:17 pm - 07/20/2011

Prosecuting the victim, absolving the perpetrators

July 18, 2011

Updated 7/19: The charge has been corrected. Nelson was charged with vehicular homicide.

This is an advocacy blog, but typically we’re rather measured in our tone. Sometimes, however, we see something so utterly outrageous, so emblematic of the failure of our current transportation system, that “measured” just won’t cut it.

The prosecution and conviction this week of Raquel Nelson – a metro Atlanta mother who lost her four-year-old son to a hit-and-run driver – on the charge of vehicular homicide is one of those times.

You heard that right: According to the office of Cobb County prosecutor Barry Morgan, Nelson – who had no car at the time – committed vehicular homicide by attempting to cross a five-lane highway with her three kids to get to her apartment, after being let off the bus.

This photo shows the bus stops (located on both sides) of Austell Road, and the path taken by Raquel Nelson across Austell Road to get from the bus stop to her apartment complex across the street. No marked crossings are visible in the photo.

Nelson, 30 and African-American, was convicted on the charge this week by six jurors who were not her peers: All were middle-class whites, and none had ever taken a bus in metro Atlanta. In other words, none had ever been in Nelson’s shoes:

They had never taken two buses to go grocery shopping at Wal-Mart with three kids in tow. They had never missed a transfer on the way home that caused them to wait a full hour-and-a-half with tired and hungry kids for the next bus. They had never been let off at a bus stop on a five-lane speedway, with their apartment in sight across the road, and been asked to drag those three little ones an additional half-mile-plus down the road to the nearest traffic signal and back in order to get home at last.

And they had never lost control of an over-eager four-year-old as they waited on a three-foot median for a car to pass. Nor had they watched helplessly as a driver who had had “three or four” beers and two painkillers barreled toward their child.

That’s right: Because Nelson did not lug her exhausted little ones three-tenths of a mile from the bus stop to a traffic signal in order to cross five lanes of traffic, she is guilty of vehicular homicide. Because she did as her fellow bus riders, who crossed at the same time and place, and because she did what pedestrians will do every time – take the shortest reasonable path – she is guilty of vehicular homicide.

What about the highway designers, traffic engineers, transit planners and land use regulators who allowed a bus stop to be placed so far from a signal and made no other provision for a safe crossing; who allowed – even encouraged, with wide, straight lanes – prevailing speeds of 50-plus on a road flanked by houses and apartments; who carved a fifth lane out of a wider median that could have provided more of a safe refuge for pedestrians; who designed the entire landscape to be hostile to people trying to get to work and groceries despite having no access to a car?

They are as innocent as the day is long, according to the solicitor general’s office.

Continued at the source...

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bethan_b_bad 20th-Jul-2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
OMG, so much rage.

SO. MUCH. RAGE. I cannot even.

staringiscaring 20th-Jul-2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Fucking ridiculous. Its disgraceful that her lawyer didn't manage to get one working class person on the jury.
jasoncourtney 20th-Jul-2011 07:06 pm (UTC)
"Its disgraceful that her lawyer didn't manage to get one working class person on the jury."

this so much! that's why you NEED to have money to afford a good lawyer b/c this to me makes NO SENSE.
ntensity 20th-Jul-2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
I can't even bring myself to read all of this right now. It's unbelievable.
brewsternorth 20th-Jul-2011 08:36 pm (UTC)
Oh jfc. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. When I once went to a friend's place in lower Westchester, walking from the nearest MNRR since it wasn't far, I got some *very* strange looks from the local motorists. Even in the UK they're usually more careful about pedestrian crossings (we're the ones who came up with Belisha beacons and all the other weird and wonderful variations on the lighted crossing after all).
supermishelle 20th-Jul-2011 06:51 pm (UTC)
Fuck the police. Fuck our justice system.

After last night when the police clearly treated my White boyfriend with way more respect than they treated me and my queer room mates it was painfully validated to me that we don't have rights. The whole justice system is bullshit.
vanillakokakola 21st-Jul-2011 02:16 am (UTC)
I'm intrigued to know what happened if you're ok with discussing it, just out of pure curiosity.
sephirajo 20th-Jul-2011 06:58 pm (UTC)

Nor had they watched helplessly as a driver who had had “three or four” beers and two painkillers barreled toward their child.


Nor had they watched helplessly as a driver who had had “three or four” beers and two painkillers barreled toward their child.


What. The. Fucking. Hell. This driver is at fault. JUST THEM. This jury needs to be chased with pitchforks and torches. I'll start handing them out now.
ntensity 20th-Jul-2011 07:07 pm (UTC)
I think I'd rather go after the defense lawyer. :/
layweed 20th-Jul-2011 06:59 pm (UTC)
What type of cockamamie bullshit is this?
brewsternorth 20th-Jul-2011 07:20 pm (UTC)

If TPTB didn't want too many crosswalks to get in the way of traffic, couldn't they have had the foresight to put in a pedestrian bridge linking the two bus stops? Jaywalking = generally not a good idea, but there are abundant mitigating circumstances in the pedestrian's case, and a hell of a lot more grounds to charge the driver with DWI and vehicular homicide or at the least reckless driving.
thenakedcat 21st-Jul-2011 01:42 am (UTC)
This. As my driving instructor told me, "Pedestrians do NOT always have the right of way but it is ALWAYS the responsibility of drivers to avoid pedestrians to the best of their ability regardless of who has the right of way."
tekiclutch 20th-Jul-2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
Dear Atlanta,

What the shit is this shit?
celtic_thistle 20th-Jul-2011 07:23 pm (UTC)
What the FUCK is this heartless, racist, classist SHIT?!
auxoriousrex 20th-Jul-2011 07:34 pm (UTC)
welcome to georgia
liret 20th-Jul-2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
I hate how so many cities are designed in ways that make it impossible to get around safely without a car. I've had such a hard time explaining to people that yes, this or that place is only a mile away, or there is a bus, but I still can't get there without walking on an overpass.

But of course we must punish the women who are Bad Mothers and a threat to society.
setosnicegirl 20th-Jul-2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
It seems there are two petitions going to help this woman.

That's a good sign.
munkykiss 20th-Jul-2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
WTF IS THIS? I can't imagine this woman's grief at losing a child and now having to deal with this crap.
cpsings4him 20th-Jul-2011 07:47 pm (UTC)
What in the shit is this??? Are you kidding me??
saturated_style 20th-Jul-2011 07:53 pm (UTC)
Is there anywhere that we can donate money so that she can get a decent lawyer and appeal this shit? This is ridic.
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