Small Town Justice

Number 22855
Subject Racial Profiling
Source WTVT-TV (Tampa, Fla.)
State FL
Year 2006
Publication Date 11/13/2006
Summary A Haitian truck driver, Jean Claude Meus, was convicted of vehicular homicide after a semi he was driving turned over and fell on a minivan, killing a mother and daughter. While no drugs or alcohol were present in his system at the time of the accident, prosecutors were able to push a conviction based on their assertion that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, and was thus driving recklessly. But WTVT-TV investigators "found convincing evidence that (he) did not fall asleep, and in fact, was trying to avoid an accident." An off-duty firefighter was a witness at the scene, and asserted that Meus was "alert and helpful immediately after the crash." Yet the lead investigator, who attended high school with victim Nona Moore, never interview Juan Otero, the off-duty firefighter. With the help of experts, WTVT reconstructed the crash, and the conclusion drawn was that Meus had turned off the road to avoid an obstruction. Further, WTVT spoke with jurors who said that with that new evidence, they would not have voted to convict.
Category Contest Entry
Pages 27
Keywords Unfair trials; Florida Highway Patrol; quick convictions; crash reconstruction; juror bias; investigator bias; racial profiling; all-white jury
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