PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) – Prosecutors dropped charges of homicide while driving a vehicle, manslaughter and reckless endangerment against the garbage truck driver who hit a cyclist five years ago in downtown, La killing.
The victim’s family is distraught after a long and complicated journey through the justice system, saying they had no say in the dropping of the case.
“She was funny, loving and kind. She loved being close and holding hands. I always say she wasn’t afraid to love or be loved,” Laura Fredricks said of her daughter Emily, who was 24 when she was killed on her way to her working as a baker near South 11th and Spruce streets in November. of 2017.
“It’s devastating. We had little hope that the charges would remain.
She said her family fought to keep vehicular and manslaughter charges against Jorge Fretts, the driver of a garbage truck who killed their daughter.
Fretts was indicted two years later. Prosecutors argued he ignored a blind spot and did not use a turn signal.
“This is an epidemic of those who kill our loved ones without criminal prosecution,” Laura said.
“We really thought this was going to be the change for all the vulnerable…and look where we are.”
A judge dismissed the case after the defense argued there was no criminal negligence or recklessness, adding the accident was unavoidable. The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office appealed to the higher courts, but did not win.
A spokesman for District Attorney Larry Krasner said they have exhausted all legal avenues and have yet to drop the charges.
“We had no say,” Laura said.
“Our feeling is that they don’t prosecute those who kill our loved ones with their vehicles. Is this office too overwhelmed with gun violence crimes? But we believe there are crimes committed by people who drive vehicles. vehicles.
“It’s disheartening to be second to gun violence when the same result has happened,” added Emily’s father, Richard Fredricks.
“It was an 80,000 pound bullet [that] killed our daughter. It wasn’t a gun, but for us it was an 80,000 pound bullet.
The Fredricks family argues that courts, particularly judges, only see what they call “traffic violence” through the eyes of drivers, not pedestrians or cyclists.
“There are over 40,000 people killed each year by traffic violence and that’s just the cost of driving on our roads,” Laura said. “These deaths are preventable, they are tragedies and people must be held accountable.”
Since Emily’s death, the Fredricks family has fought to change the city’s bike lanes to be on the driver’s side of the road rather than the passenger’s side, so drivers can see an approaching cyclist. They also fought to have poles at every intersection along Pine and Spruce streets to protect cyclists.
Fretts’ lawyer, David Bahuriak, called the crash a “terrible tragedy”, but said it was unavoidable. He again said there was no negligence or recklessness and the victim was in Fretts’ blind spot, so there was no crime.
Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia executive director Sarah Stuart said the decision was an “incredible blow” and showed how “broken” the criminal justice system is when it comes to code violations. the road. But she applauds the Fredricks family for their fight.
Here is the full statement from a spokesperson for District Attorney Larry Krasner:
“DA Krasner and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Emily Fredricks, who no doubt continue to mourn the loss of their beloved daughter and friend. Our office has been fighting since April 2019 for justice. for Emily and her family. Today’s decision to withdraw Mr. Fretts’ case was not easy, but our office, simply put, has exhausted all legal avenues in the vehicular homicide charge – a decision that the Court took after reviewing the dashcam video of Mr. Fretts’ vehicle that we provided to the Court – the Superior Court later upheld the Court’s decision (and even went further by suggesting that all related charges in addition to HBV are also dismissed). Our office then appealed. to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which declined to consider this case in its entirety.