Brighton man charged for fatal pedestrian crash on Comm Ave.

Updated with arraignment info.

Boston Police report charging Phocian Fitts, 23, of Brighton, with fatally hitting Theodore Schwalb, 80, and then driving away yesterday.

Fitts was held in lieu of $10,000 bail at his arraignment today in Brighton Municipal Court and had his license suspended by the RMV, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office reports.

Police say Schwalb was crossing Commonwealth Avenue at Griggs Street around 12:50 p.m. when Fitts hit him with his Jeep, then drove away.

Although police caught up with Fitts fairly quickly at his home on Fidelis Way, where he'd parked the now damaged Jeep, registered to another family member, they did not initially arrest him because they were unsure if he was the driver. But then WFXT aired an interview with him in which he admitted hitting Schwalb - with a green light but while speeding.

Based on those admissions - which corroborated physical evidence, witness interviews, and other information gathered through the afternoon and into the night - Boston Police placed Fitts under arrest at approximately 10:30 p.m.

The evidence included dash-camera video from the driver of a vehicle behind Fitts, the DA's office reports:

Among those witnesses was the driver of a vehicle traveling behind the Jeep who provided video footage from a dashboard camera. The footage showed that the Jeep did not brake before or after the fatal collision.

In the interview, Fitts said he had the green light and he had to decide between hitting the man or dying himself by swerving into something.

Police continue to seek witnesses: Contact detectives at 617-343-4470.

Innocent, etc.

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Comments

"People hit and run people

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"People hit and run people all the time." Finally a driver who admits what homicidal sociopaths many drivers are. His fellow drivers are gonna be so upset. Not because he killed a person, but because he spoke the truth about them. Drivers will continue to speed and go through red lights. They will prove this guy right that drivers are the worst. That is why we need to improve public transit and gradually ban cars from the city because drivers will never stop killing people.

And the cops initially let this guy go without arresting him! They only arrested him after this interview. Are the cops as dumb as this guy? Or do they just not care about pedestrians and saving lives?

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Voting is closed. 88

Music was in the report ,

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Music was in the report , basement has washer and dryer and humidifer , leave mothers out of this!

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Voting is closed. 26

Well

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No excuse for running, obviously, but I'm all for not swerving into oncoming traffic or a light pole if some moron darts into the road in front of me.

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Voting is closed. 21

Hit and run is arguably

Hit and run is arguably consciousness of guilt. He implicates himself in a variety of ways in his statement.

He implies he's distracted by his music, He admits he's going too fast. He implies that as a result, he cannot drive the vehicle safely--such as stop or avoid a person crossing.

He says he saw the pedestrian and the green light. He says he made a conscious decision to hit the pedestrian instead of an object because he assumes it would have caused him to die. No doubt his car has an airbag.

He showed no remorse.

He showed a belief that the facts would vindicate him of criminal liability, when he should have kept his mouth shut and hired a lawyer. I don;t think he went out to kill someone with his car but it happened, his negligence contributed to the man's death and his ignorance (in his statement and in general about our justice system) will contribute to his conviction and a harsher sentence.

The green light does not give him the right to hit a pedestrian. It means he can go if the intersection is clear.

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Voting is closed. 41

Brake Lights

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It is insane (maybe evidence of) that the dash cam from the fellow behind him indicates that he never used the brake pedal. He had time to go "beep, beep, beep" but no time or inclination to brake. Truly mind-boggling.

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I agree

I missed both of those details.

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Wait, what?!

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If some "moron" jumped into the road in front of you for reasons unknown to you, you would choose to mow them down at 30 mph rather than swerve into a light pole? I acknowledge that there is a human instinct towards self-preservation, but the latter is much more survivable than the former. If you have time to think, you are just going to hit the person? Is that really what you are saying?

I may stay in my house tomorrow.

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Voting is closed. 47

My car is insured

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I'd take the pole. I have a safety cage, seatbelt, crumple zones, and insurance. Humans are soft and squishy - easy to break, esp when they're 80 years old. The trick is to not put yourself in that position where you have to make that choice.

I used to work in the Arsenal buildings and would take route 20 to work (N. Beacon St) from Allston. The traffic heading to the left after the IHOP there has a light but the traffic bearing right (taking you to Perkins School for the Blind, the back entrance to the Arsenal, Greenough Blvd) do not have a light until the entrance to the Arsenal, nor is there a walk light there. Pedestrians have to cross both outbound lanes there in the hopes that the drivers see them and stop for them - meanwhile, everyone is driving like Death Race 2000 to get ahead of the cars next to them (esp. since the right lane is supposed to turn right onto Greenough after you cross the Charles). I would stop for pedestrians and keep an eye on my mirrors in case someone was barreling up to go around me, putting the people in the crosswalk in danger. If it looked like they weren't stopping (even though I was), I'd veer into that lane to make them stop. I never was hit luckily but I shouldn't have to put myself in that position to prevent murder. I'd still prefer getting hit to someone dying.

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Voting is closed. 26

I hate Boston's driving culture, but

By on

I feel a bit sorry for this driver.

He doesn't seem like a bad guy.

The worst part is, no drivers will learn anything from this. They won't see this and think "that's me, and I should rethink how I drive". They see this and think "what a dumbass, who isn't me".

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Voting is closed. 23

I don't think he's evil.

He's negligent for sure. He committed vehicular homicide but I do not believe he set out to do it, therefore no intent, therefor vehicular manslaughter.

He really ran his mouth trying to justify it. At the same time he reveals a lack of sophistication in understanding right of way and duty to drive the car under control but I think he's just processing with his mouth open and being more confident about his innocence than the facts will bear out. Obviously I feel worse for the man who lost his life. And I'm angry at the guy who took it. But I also feel some compassion for how that will change his and his families life.

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Probably True

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Well stated.

If we had a system that treated vehicular-crimes appropriately, I would I would spend more time and energy on this side of the equation, because I think what you said is probably true. Unfortunately, we do not, and I view this as a good opportunity to try to swing the pendulum.

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Voting is closed. 34

He demonstrated intent

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when he decided to go beep beep instead of brake brake. He had time to decide - intent can be decided in an instant legally. He also admitted as much on camera. Not a nice guy, chose to murder.

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Voting is closed. 33

I agree but consider whether his kill or be killed story is

I agree but consider whether his kill or be killed story is credible or an after the fact justification he used because he thought it discharged criminal liability.

He'll be confronted with the evidence but as you note, he's already laid down markers and framed the decision he made commit vehicular homicide or commit vehicular suicide. What may decide the question is which parts of his story the jury believs.

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Voting is closed. 19

Really?

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He sounds like a textbook narcissistic psychopath. His lack of decency and empathy is stunning.

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are you serious - you feel

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are you serious - you feel sorry for this guy! He never stopped never tried to get this poor guy help when he hit him! So sorry for YOU!

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Voting is closed. 23

Had a car speeding/tailgating me this morning

Coming down Brighton Ave, was speeding to try and squeeze through a stopped lane of traffic and myself, having taken the lane. Slams on the horn and shockingly, the brakes so he just came close to hitting me. All to get to a red light a few seconds faster. Passenger tried accosting me at the light so I had to carefully run through it. Thankfully it was a 4 way pedestrian signal, but I'm sure the moral police will come down hard on me for that.

Saw BPD on the other side of the intersection but whats the point of engaging them when they don't even care when a motorist kills, let alone almost hits someone?

Gotta wonder just how many motorists feel emboldened to drive recklessly, considering how little BPD cares.

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Voting is closed. 67

I'd love to see BPD

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Out on Comm Ave with radar guns every day for a few weeks.

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Voting is closed. 65

They have been for years....

with the occasional speed trap at Packard's Corner on the inbound side in front of the car dealership. A consistent trap would alert more speeders than deter them, in my experience.

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Occasional?

I've seen more instances of BPD harassing cyclists that weren't wearing helmets. I don't recall every seeing a parked cruiser conducting speed traps there and that is my daily route to and from work.

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Voting is closed. 35

Once

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I saw BPD once outside of my apartment, near Scottfield Road. Only because I repeatedly reported speeders on Bos311 and BPD finally did a speed trap over 2 (weekend) days. I stopped by to check in on them and they told me they ticketed 6 drivers in 30 minutes.

A good money-making scheme, if not a way to actually improve safety.

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Voting is closed. 35

Money making scheme for whom?

Municipalities don't get to keep the money - the state keeps the money.

This is a big part of why there is lots of time to stare into holes on side streets but no time left in the schedule for traffic enforcement.

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Citation?

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Swirl tends to get her facts right... I'd like to read more about this one.

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Municipalities get about half of traffic citation revenue

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The RMV returns a share of each ticket to the community. For example, $50 of each speeding ticket goes into a head-injury trust fund, and the state and issuing community split the balance, said RMV spokeswoman Ann Dufresne. For some tickets, the community receives the whole fine, Dufresne said.--
Lowell Sun

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Voting is closed. 31

The state still controls the money

Taking out an appropriation and splitting the rest with the city or town came in in 2009, apparently so Fishy is correct there. However, it doesn't seem like they get much when you consider the cost of the patrols.

http://boston.cbslocal.com/2013/01/31/i-team-towns-where-youre-most-like...

And the cops don't get that money directly - the town gets what the state sends back. Certainly makes traffic stops a lower staffing priority than details, which are fully paid to the PDs.

Even if a cop spent that commonly worked 2000 hours a year (assuming customary overtime would be spent on court time for appeals and other duties like 4th of July fireworks traffic handling and such) handing out an average of 5 tickets an hour, with the city/town receiving $50 for each, that would be 2000 hours/year * 5 tickets per hour * $50 per ticket = $500,000 (assuming they all stuck, also not realistic). That sounds like a lot, but it really isn't when you consider that most police officers get $150K in pay and benefits each year.

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Fines

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The city keeps half of all fines given for state violations.

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Ah yes, those darn cops are to blame for this.

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1) Cops need to ticket people! 2) Why are cops ticketing people like I asked? What a scam!

The changing circumstances in this case have the usuals all aflutter. Yesterdays calls for the heads of those darn suburbanites who don't value the lives of others have come to a screeching halt when inconvenient truths were introduced.. The driver admitted to not caring about killing the man but its not an issue anymore. Let's just blame it all on socioeconomics and call it a day.

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Voting is closed. 30

Strawman

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1) Cops need to ticket people! 2) Why are cops ticketing people like I asked? What a scam!

The only "people" who say this are made of hay. I'm very happy when I see cops writing tickets. That's because they should be doing a lot more of that. I don't get angry because I don't break the traffic laws.

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Voting is closed. 26

Er, someone said that above. Reading is Fundamental

By on

Note the person who claimed to have called 311 multiple times for them to do something about speeders and then pronounced traffic enforcement a scam. I'm not inventing a straw man here, it's not my fault the logic is so ridiculous. As I said, the arrest of the killer has confused many and they don't know where to turn and how to direct the convo back to the same generalizations they always rave about.

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Voting is closed. 19

Constitutional Law Class

By on

And the cops initially let this guy go without arresting him! They only arrested him after this interview. Are the cops as dumb as this guy? Or do they just not care about pedestrians and saving lives?

Identifying the car in a collision is not the same as identifying the driver in a collision.

If the police find the car, they have to start by talking to people who might have had access to it. If they find such a person, they can't force him to admit or deny driving it at the time of the collision. In fact, they have to tell him explicitly that he doesn't have to say anything at all and can talk to a lawyer instead. Then they have to get him to read those same rights and sign a piece of paper saying he understands them. This might sound crazy, but the 5th and 6th amendments apply even to drivers.

If the person does the obvious thing, which is not talk, they have to move on to identify and interview witnesses, try to find surveillance footage from nearby stores, and if they have more than a hunch subpoena the person's phone records. That can take hours or even days. Can you believe it? But the alternative is to arrest someone without sufficient evidence or, worse, arrest the wrong person. Most people frown on both of those options.

Hi-res traffic cameras would eliminate almost all of these challenges but they are unpopular. A new approach seems to be siccing Fox 25 on the suspects, since voluntary, on-air admissions to television reporters are not privileged communication and require no Miranda warning.

Neil Chayet, RIP.

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Voting is closed. 64

Serious question Adam

By on

Why haven't you banned this troll for hateful language? He takes every opportunity to describe the vast majority of drivers as homicidal sociopaths.

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Voting is closed. 54

Hey

By on

Stop hitting people with your cars

[Edit]

Please.

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Voting is closed. 45

You want hateful language?

Check all various "reckless careless motorist kills and leaves scene" threads on UHub where people continue to make up special excuses for drivers who kill - including drunk ones, including people with already suspended licenses.

You can also checkout Mr. Hit-and-Run's little video interview.

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Voting is closed. 40

I'll tell you why the cops probably didn't arrest him.....

First off, you need to prove who the driver was. Crimes like hit and runs often involve other people driving cars they do not own. So the police bring the owner in and asks if he would like to talk. At first, no one can identify the owner as the driver of the car so you need to ask him. When the guy comes in, guess what, the owner didn't want to talk. Now why would you bring him in so early if you don't have probable cause to arrest? So the cops can get the clothes and evidence that will go with them. (possible evidence of glass, airbag residue, injuries, and as a clothing description if witnesses decide to come forward.) As this is going on the police get about 10-20 videos of the car traveling through Boston to see what the driver was wearing, where the damage occurred, if there were any passengers, if the car stopped to see if anyone got out, if the driver switched places with a passenger, if they picked up someone else and have that person say they were driving, etc, etc.

Thankfully, the guy spilled his guts to the TV station right off the bat.

Long story short, you want to make sure you have the driver of that car before you arrest someone just because they own the car.

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Voting is closed. 69

You know what kind of people are actually the worst?

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The kind who make vast, inaccurate generalizations about huge swaths of the population. Vilifying the very people whose minds you want to change is not a great way to gain their attention and support.

(edited for spelling)

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This is true, Kinopio

By on

We've talked about letting your famed "stop hitting people with cars" prejudice color your opinion of people who drive like maniacs unafraid of consequences

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I'm afraid of consequences.

By on

I've gotten speeding tickets in the past (albeit they were on highways, where speed limits are unnecessarily low, but that's irrelevant to this discussion). I don't speed like I did when I was younger and dumber. I'm also afraid of hurting someone when I drive in the city. These are reasons why I drive carefully. I've hit a total of zero people with my car, but, according to you and Kinopio, I'm a psychopath, hellbent on driving as quickly and recklessly as possible, pedestrians be damned.

GFY

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Voting is closed. 39

Cut the victim complex

Why are you afraid of hurting someone when you drive in the city? You've said that you drive carefully yet you still fear that you could hurt someone. Those things do not add up.

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Voting is closed. 33

Not afraid

By on

That was poorly worded, I concede. I don't want to hurt anybody. Is that better?

It's beside the point anyway. My issue is with anti-car zealots like Kinopio characterizing ALL drivers as immanent threats to public safety. The vast majority are not. There are bad apples, just as there are with any large group.

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Voting is closed. 35

System

It's the whole system of car-first infrastructure that's dangerous, and that makes anyone who wants to perpetuate that system dangerous.

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We're in agreement there, but

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There is a big difference between utilizing the current infrastructure versus wanting to perpetuate or expand it. I'm all for making the system less car-centric.

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Voting is closed. 32

Just stop.

By on

This is a derail. The subject is a hit-and-run and you're making it all about Kinopio. Just stop.

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Voting is closed. 30

...actually...

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I am continually afraid of hitting pedestrians and cyclists, as, as often as not, they disregard the laws of the road that were designed to protect them. So, yes, one has to be continually vigilant..... and, by the way, before anyone misreads this, I am not saying that the victim in this particular incident was at fault, just that I have certainly seen pedestrians where they shouldn't be....(crossing streets, looking at their phones, when the vehicle traffic has a green light, for example)

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Voting is closed. 31

Good

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Anyone who chooses to pilot a two-ton vehicle in a densely populated area should be extremely vigilant of the harm they might inflict on others. It would be worrisome if you weren't afraid!

When you choose a less potentially lethal mode of transportation, you can let your guard down accordingly. That's exactly how it should work.

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Voting is closed. 34

The laws of the road are not designed to protect us

Those laws were written to prevent the dangers of automobiles on the general public. Over time, they have developed to create a further divide been space for cars and the tiny slivers of space for everyone else.

Hell, you know that the whole jay-walking expression and laws developed from that started with the auto industry trying to get those pesky pedestrians out of the way of cars.

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Voting is closed. 30

Really?

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I saw your comment yesterday, thought of commenting, decided not to, then came back and found 20 likes. When someone has been killed through another person's negligence, "enjoy" is not what anyone should be doing here.

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Voting is closed. 24

....

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What a [email protected]$$. As someone who has lost friends who were hit in crosswalks, I hope this guy gets a stiffer sentence for his prior record and complete disregard for life.

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Voting is closed. 44

He must have been going

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He must have been going really fast. This is the inbound approach to that crosswalk:

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.3485026,-71.1347122,3a,75y,59.3h,87.54t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sb-fzpUf7RJescM51y7mOdQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

Drivers have clear line of sight coming down to that intersection. There is no way you can see that green light, but not a person in front of your car. There are also very few objects to swerve into ...unless you are going very fast.

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Voting is closed. 40

I think he was on the outbound side

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The news reports say the man was flung into the other side of the street when hit. That plus the guy ending up on Fidelis Way says to me he was going outbound, coming from Harvard towards Allston St. Otherwise, he'd have to turn around to get to Fidelis. That means he had a clear unobstructed view of the intersection on flat land for a light/crosswalk that is there mostly for pedestrians (Griggs doesn't fully cross Comm Ave there so there are cars that come from Griggs but typically it's a pedestrian crossing). No excuse to not stop. Can't even say the sun was in his eyes.

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Voting is closed. 23

Important Concept

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If a road has crosswalks, you should never drive any faster than your ability to stop for that crosswalk.

I got rear ended once doing this, but it saved a life. School zone, kid entered a crosswalk in front of me, I stopped with plenty of time to spare. Jerk who was tailgating me and indignantly weaving plowed into the back of me. Tried to say that I brake checked her but the kid and friends stuck around and told the cop that I stopped for them in the crosswalk.

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Voting is closed. 33

The issue isn't with car drivers plural

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In this case, it's about this one guy. Why is he so callous, narcissistic? Who raised him? His behavior and the things he said about killing this poor elderly man are indicatve of a seriously mentally distubed individual.

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We are losing our humanity,

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We are losing our humanity, compassion, reverence for human life. I'm not sure what I want to more...puke or be on the jury.

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Voting is closed. 23

DA Forum

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There is the sad but true adage that the best way to get away with murder is to use your car.

I'd love someone to ask the candidates for DA at tonight's forum how aggressively people who harm others with their vehicles should be charged.

(In this case, the dummy got on camera, which seems to have led to the arrest. It would be too depressing for me to compile links to all the times drivers were not charged in collisions that resulted in serious injury or death to other road users.)

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It's all the issue

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Yes, I remember the infamous acquittal from Wellesley a few years ago, but if the DA doesn't charge, there is no chance for a verdict.

I guess we should also ask the candidates how they intend to respond to the potential for jury nullification.

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Thanks

By on

I stand corrected. You make an important distinction, but in both cases, the public refused to move the prosecution forward.

I think we need a DA willing to bring charges. Without that, it never even gets to a jury, grand or otherwise.

I was and remain appalled by the refusal to indict given the statements made by the killer. I'm not sure what system you are proposing if we don't let the jury decide.

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Voting is closed. 35

I was on a jury that

I was on a jury that nullified a workplace termination assault and battery, even as the prosecutor tried to introduce priors which indicated a pattern, I think she knew she had a flawed victim.

Which DA candidates did you like the best at the ACLU forum tonight at Hibernian Hall and why?

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"A Flawed Victim"

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You violated your oath as a juror because the victim was "flawed?" You realize that includes literally all people, right?

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I wonder how his lawyer will handle this

So, here we have someone, on camera, confess to hitting a pedestrian with total disregard for the pedestrian's life. I wonder how his lawyer will exclude this interview in the trial, or otherwise defend him.

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Voting is closed. 18

Brighton man charged for fatal pedestrian crash on Comm Ave.

By on

What a "POS" ! He dindu nuffin. He's the victim".

According to Beth Germano WBZ-TV, he served 6 months in jail for armed robbery. He was already on probation for beating up the mailman.

The younger generation are heartless, cold and have no empathy. They aren't being brought up with love and care, respect or responsibility.

Did you notice the tattoo on his upper cheek, underneath his outer right eye ? Isn't that a "gang" symbol ?

With the "new" lenient "Criminal Justice Reform" that the State Legislature HAD TO PASS, will he get a slap on the wrist because he grew up "supposedly" poor and was disadvantaged ? Gee, that Jeep Cherokee looked pretty new looking.

Don't we already have "soft" judges ? The African man with a green card who robbed a bank twice so the judge gave him a "light " sentence so he didn't get deported. Then he went to a Southie penthouse and slit the throats of 2 doctors.

Judge Feeley who let a dangerous man out on bail and he killed a Maine police officer. The same thing for a Dominican drug dealer who had heroin and cocaine packets in his car. He didn't want him to get deported and break up his family. He was just a "working" man trying to support his family.

Is my thinking wrong or is the world upside down ?

This Brighton man took the life of an 80 year old who was a teacher for 40 years and was responsible and "contributed" to society. This guy looks "irresponsible" and is a "taker" from society.
I pity the next generation.

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Voting is closed. 25

Okay whatever

The younger generation are heartless, cold and have no empathy. They aren't being brought up with love and care, respect or responsibility.

That must explain why crime is so much lower than it was in the peak young adult years of the baby boom. Yep

I also had no idea that Beauregard Child Snatcher and Donald "Death Penalty for Innocent Blacks accused of crimes" Trump were of this younger generation.

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