Many progressive politicians and prosecutors have come under fire in recent years for embracing a criminal justice reform agenda that critics say often releases dangerous individuals back onto the street to victimize others.
That argument is at the heart of a recent lawsuit against the city of St. Louis, Missouri.
According to reports, 18-year-old Janae Edmondson was looking forward to entering college on a volleyball scholarship when she was traumatically injured in a crash earlier this year. As it turned out, the individual accused of causing the collision — 21-year-old Daniel Riley — had been released on bond by then-prosecutor Kim Gardner’s office as he faced charges related to armed robbery.
Edmondson was pinned between two cars and spent 40 days in the hospital where both of her legs had to be amputated. The incident occurred in February and was a central source of pressure that ultimately led to Gardner’s resignation.
A current lawsuit is seeking damages from the city and argues that the teen “had her bright future brutally ripped away” due to the devastating collision.
“The crash, involving a robbery suspect who had violated the terms of his bond dozens of times over several months, was completely preventable,” the court document asserts.
Riley allegedly violated the terms of his release dozens of times, but his bond was never revoked. He pleaded not guilty to charges related to the crash and is still facing the 2020 armed robbery charges.
This is Daniel Riley, the man accused of causing a crash in downtown St. Louis that severely injured a young volleyball player. #News4Investigates is digging into his background and learning he never should have been driving. More on @KMOV at 6 pic.twitter.com/MMoxEgmGPl
— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) February 21, 2023
In addition to Riley and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, the lawsuit names the driver of the other vehicle involved in the crash as a defendant. Both drivers were reportedly speeding and had suspended licenses at the time of the collision.
The lawsuit further accuses city leaders of failing to address dangerous conditions on the road where the crash occurred.
Although Edmondson had received an athletic scholarship to the University of Tennessee Southern prior to her near-fatal injury, she has since accepted a partial scholarship that will allow her to take on a managerial role for Middle Tennessee University’s volleyball program.
An online fundraiser was less than $80,000 short of its $900,000 goal as of this writing.