It’s hard, getting juries to convict people of dangerous driving after they kill a pedestrian; there is so much of “there but for the grace of God go I” among people who drive. It's even harder if the person driving the car is police; Lawyers know how to pick a Cops are Tops jury who assume he’s just doing his job. Pedestrian deaths are “accidents” that are inevitable, the price we pay for having a motorized society.
And of course, these days it’s the pedestrian’s fault for looking at their phones, wearing black, listening to music or crossing the street mid block. Most of which, apparently, 18 year old Natasha Carla Abogado was doing when she crossed an east end Toronto Street.
When Constable Remo Romano hit her with his F150 pickup truck he was going 115 (71MPH) in a 60 km/hr (37 MPH) zone. According to one article, her body was thrown 80 meters. Constable Romano was evidently working at the time, even though he is not a Toronto policeman. He was on the case, part of “Project Letterbox”, going after a “person of interest” who stole perfume from a drugstore. Romano was actually charged with dangerous driving causing death, but when you read the Star you get a different picture:
The police officer of 13 years testified in his own defence through tears and placed the blame on Abogado. He just did not see the 18-year-old as she stepped into his lane, wearing dark clothes and possibly with headphones on, he told the jury.
Defence lawyer Bill MacKenzie told the jury what happened was a tragic and devastating accident.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, police officers are sometimes permitted to speed during the lawful performance of their duties, the jury heard.
In his closing submissions, MacKenzie told the jury “the defence position is that Ms. Abogado made a fateful decision to cross St. Clair at the time and location that she did . . . She chose not to walk to the controlled intersection 75 metres west, but rather chose to cross where she did.”
So here we have what is essentially a residential street lined with houses, bus shelters and a seniors residence, in the suburbs where the lights and crosswalks are a long way apart, a cop out of his own district chasing a petty perfume thief at almost twice the speed limit, but she’s wearing black, possibly with headphones, too lazy to walk 250 feet so it’s a tragic accident and the cop draws a hung jury.
Whenever I use the words “blaming the victim” I am overwhelmed with comments like “Why not? It’s their fault.” But it is not. The streets are too wide and too fast, the lights and crosswalks are too far apart, and hey, it’s a cop doing his job. Sure, the speed limit on Canadian 12 lane controlled access highways is 100 and he is doing 115 on a residential street looking for a perfume thief. But hey, it’s all just “a tragic accident” caused primarily by 18 year old Natasha Carl Abogado.
Blaming the victim has become the go-to excuse for killing pedestrians. It's not just wearing black at night either; in New York drivers apparently get off because the pedestrians are too short to see or too old to move quickly enough or to far behind their mom. And God forbid if they have a phone in their hands. But in the end, it is the big metal box that is doing the killing, aided and abetted by the planners and engineers who designed the roads for the big metal boxes. It's time to fix this.