There is something wrong in Indian River County Florida, when police and prosecutors keep changing their story about an incident. By all accounts, and in most legal proceeding, the suspect is considered innocent until they are proven guilty. But when it comes to a 17 year old Black male named Darrick Washington in Indian River County that rule is not followed.
Darrick Washington was shot on October 24, 2010, by an Indian River County Deputy Kevin Keitz, who has a history of shooting suspects. As a policeman in Hollywood Florida, he was involved in 2 shootouts and in 2008, he was released from duty. He was then hired by Indian River County, and he received official complaints in 2009, and was involved in 3 shootings in 2010, and one with 17 year old Darrick Washington.
On October 24 2010, there was a teen party at a pool hall, and some shots were fired. Once the shots were fired, the police were called to the scene, and everyone scattered. As 16 year old Darrick Washington becomes the driver for four other friends, he realized he did not have a license. As he sped off into the night, the police pursued him down a dead end street, where he turned around and was shot in the right side of his chest.
He became unconscious and the car crashed in a ditch, and the other four youth were pursued by a large amount of sheriffs and police. For three hours Darrick Washington was left unconscious, while his friends were chased down and found. After his friends were located, he was air-lifted to a hospital in Lawnwood Trauma Center, and labeled John Doe.
His mother Andrea Johnson received a call that her son was possibly shot, but no one could tell her where he was located. After a series of calls, she found out the location of her son, and details of the incident were confusing and sketchy. Her son was in ICU for 18 days and in the hospital for 23 days. There were no illegal substances, or weapons found in the car, so when her son was released from the hospital, he was allowed to go home.
As Darrick Washington recovered from being shot, on February 11, 2011, a civil rights suit was filed. The suit alleges that Darrick Washington’s civil rights were violated, and the officer acted improperly. Once the civil rights case was filed, a warrant was put out for the teen’s arrest.
Initially, Darrick and his friends were charged with shooting a weapon, but the FDLE investigation discredited this charge. After 48 hours Darrick and his friends were released based on the FDLE report, but on April 7, 2011, a warrant was put out for his arrest. He was then charged with using his car as a weapon or battering ram, and attempted 2nd degree murder of a police officier.
The bond was initially set at $250,000, and at the bond modification in September the bond was lowered to $85,000. Darrick Washington’s mother cannot afford to pay for the bond or a criminal attorney.
Based on the public defender’s report, the police have been able to locate dash-video 1,3,4,5, but the policeman who opened fire, his video-cam has not been located. In the other four video-cams, it shows Darrick Washington driving around the policeman and ending up in a ditch. He was not using the car as a weapon or battering ram, as police have claimed.
Leaving Darrick incarcerated for 7 months is cruel punishment for a teenager who has not been sentenced. There is no compelling evidence that the suspect is a flight risk, and the accused could be in this holding pattern for another year.
Somewhere in our justice system poor suspects are discarded and forgotten in the system. Darrick Washington has had his freedom taken away from him, and his fate is in the hands of an overburdened public defender who tries to work a murder trial, when he does not have time for the rest of his caseload.
Seven months is long enough for a teenager to be in jail, and he has no understanding or reason why he is there. There is also a problem when the police and prosecutor keep changing their story, because they are not sure what the teenager did wrong that night. Giving a Black male teenager a mentor or support group will improve his life, instead of keeping him incarcerated.
For more information on the case click “Orlando.com NAACP questions teen’s attempted murder charge.”