Victims Testify in Hit-and-Run Case: Driver and Longtime Friend Describe Suspect Leaving Scene
By Jenean Docter
Further witness testimony in the case of Kareem Kento Washington, accused of two hit-and-runs, was heard in Department 8 on the afternoon of March 9, 2018. Judge David W. Reed supervised the proceedings, with Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt representing the accused and Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian appearing on behalf of the People of California.
The People called “R.R.” to the stand.
His wife sat in the front passenger seat, and their friend “A.L.” was directly behind him. His mother-in-law sat behind his wife.
As they passed through a stoplight while traveling southbound in the left lane of Jefferson Boulevard, a vehicle “came flying over the center divide.” R.R. claimed that he “didn’t have time to stop,” and that the oncoming vehicle “just stopped me right there.”
At the time of the collision, R.R. was traveling at approximately 30 miles per hour, while the other car moved “much faster.” The vehicles collided “T-bone style,” and all airbags in R.R.’s 2012 Nissan Altima “went off.”
The other vehicle had been “airbound.” R.R. felt very “shocked” at the time.
After taking one to two minutes to “see that everyone was okay,” R.R. was the first passenger to exit the Altima after opening the door for his wife to exit as well.
He didn’t need help, although he did suffer some bruising “for several weeks” across his chest due to his seatbelt tightening at the moment of impact. “The pain came later,” he reflected.
Bystanders quickly arrived at the scene, and some began to help other passengers out of the Altima.
“They got out of their cars and started runnin’ towards the suspect,” he recalled. “At that time, he was runnin’ down the street,” R.R. remembered. Two people on the opposite side of the street then followed the suspect, and “tackled him down” until police arrived. This occurred about 50 feet from the Nissan, at an access area by a riverbank.
“The whole front end was smashed,” R.R. said, describing the state of his vehicle following the collision. “Nothin’ was running,” he mentioned. Steam and smoke drifted upward from the engine. Evidently, his vehicle was totaled.
R.R. believed that the other car was a “brown Lexus.”
R.R. never made contact with Mr. Washington, although he successfully identified him in court. No one has approached R.R. to exchange information with him to this date. Even the police did not inform R.R. of the identity of the driver.
R.R. noted that his wife suffered “really bad injuries,” and that she and her mother were transported to the hospital soon after the collision. R.R. also visited the doctor the next day.
Mr. Kian showed R.R. photographs of both cars, and an unattached tire. R.R. recalled that he could smell gasoline near his vehicle, and that his front windshield shattered during the collision.
When Mr. Van Zandt inquired as to why R.R. did not stay to help his mother-in-law or his friend, who were trapped in the vehicle and could not open their doors, R.R. aggravately exclaimed, “I was in shock, okay, and my adrenaline was pumpin’, okay?”
R.R. also recalled that he did not see any blood on his mother-in-law, and that if that had been the case he likely would have helped her himself.
He spoke with the police, and gave a statement.
Next, the People called “A.L.,” the longtime friend of R.R. and his wife, to testify.
A.L. is a middle-aged woman who attended the River Cats game with R.R., his wife, and the wife’s mother on August 22, 2018.
She noted that the River Cats game ended around 10:00 P.M. She had parked her car at the Nugget supermarket parking lot at Jefferson and Lake Washington Boulevards. R.R. was driving her back to her vehicle when the collision occurred.
A.L. described a jarring situation in which she saw “headlights coming north,” then a vehicle which hit the median “became airborne” and impacted the vehicle she was riding in. She noted that the collision triggered all of the airbags in R.R.’s vehicle.
After the crash, she and R.R.’s mother-in-law were unable to open their doors.
She suffered from whiplash, as well as from seatbelt-related injuries, stiffness, and soreness. She did not go to the hospital, and her injuries are still healing. She also noted that she now faces persistent pain in her right-side ribs, and numbness in her hands.
R.R.’s mother-in-law, “P.B.,” appeared to have very red lips which were “not because of lipstick.” A.L. believed that P.B.’s lips were red as a result of blood, so she notified paramedics to “check her mouth.”
A.L. did not see the driver of the other vehicle afterward. Nor did she speak with the police.
The jury trial will resume on Monday, March 19, 2018, in Department 8.
Police Officers Describe Suicidal Suspect Fleeing Scene in Hit-and-Run Case
By Jenean Docter
Further witness testimony in the case of Kareem Kento Washington, accused of two hit-and-runs, was heard in Department 8 on the afternoon of March 9, 2018. Judge David W. Reed presided, with Deputy Public Defender Richard Van Zandt representing the accused and Deputy District Attorney Alex Kian appearing on behalf of the People.
The People called “D.B.,” a law enforcement officer, to testify as a witness.
D.B. is an experienced peace officer, having worked as part of the West Sacramento Police Department for the past 15 years.
On the night of August 22, 2018, he responded to Jefferson Boulevard. Once upon the street and heading south, he noticed a collision at Jefferson and Locks Drive—within the jurisdiction of Yolo County.
D.B. contacted two bystanders, J.M. and Z.C., who have already testified in this trial.
D.B. recalled that J.M. described the vehicle of the accused as a “grey Lexus”—notable because J.M. had insisted that he did not take note of these details at the scene.
Next, the People called “J.F.,” a sergeant at the West Sacramento Police Department, to testify as a witness.
J.F. responded to Jefferson Boulevard and Locks Drive after being informed of a “hit-and-run accident.”
At the scene, he contacted Mr. Washington. He found him sitting on the ground, about 300 feet from the collision.
J.F. successfully identified Mr. Washington in court.
J.F. recalled that Mr. Washington “seemed somewhat confused” and that he was miraculously uninjured. According to J.F.’s testimony, Mr. Washington did not express any emotion, or mention anything about the people he injured in the collision.
J.F.’s body camera captured his interactions with Mr. Washington.
The People also called “A.H.” to testify as a witness.
A.H. has been a sworn peace officer in West Sacramento for three years. He responded to Jefferson and Locks because it was his “beat,” so he “had to take it as a primary officer.”
A.H. traveled to the scene to “see what was happening.” There, he contacted “J.F.,” a sergeant already present.
After investigating, A.H. “put Mr. Washington in the patrol car” and transported him back to the station.
A.H.’s body camera captured their interactions at the station, and the recording was shown to the jury.
In the video, A.H. asked Mr. Washington “what the hell happened today? Why are you in handcuffs?” at the station.
Mr. Washington repeatedly claimed that he “wasn’t trying to leave the scene,” but that he needed to “clear his head.” Mr. Washington claimed that 10 to 15 people swarmed outside of his vehicle and began to yell at him.
He stated that he told them, “I’m walking, I need to get away from right here, I need to get my mind together.” He maintained that he needed to sit down, because the people were making him nervous.
“Those people had me scared,” he continued to emphasize.
“I didn’t run, I walked,” he stated repeatedly.
Mr. Washington believed that he would be arrested before the police even arrived on scene, because he was speeding. When A.H. asked him how fast he was driving, he replied, “I don’t know, probably 80 [miles per hour]”.
“That should have killed me, I wish that would’ve killed me,” Mr. Washington anxiously told A.H. “At times I don’t wanna live, I’m just lost right now, I really am,” he continued. “Life has just been kicking my a**,” Mr. Washington told A.H.
Mr. Washington mentioned a “bad experience” with his girlfriend. A.H. asked him if “there is somebody in Sac that is hurt that we’ll find out about later,” to which Mr. Washington calmly answered, “No.”
After being reminded by A.H. about the people his actions injured, Mr. Washington claimed that he felt “really sorry about the old ladies.”
“I got behind the wheel because I’m just stressed out,” Mr. Washington told A.H. A.H. then left the room to investigate the situation between Mr. Washington and his girlfriend.
The body camera footage showed a female officer (Officer “A”) arrive to speak with Mr. Washington.
Mr. Washington began to tell her that he is in “a lot of trouble…my job, my relationships, what little friendships I have.” Oddly, she replied that “sometimes the hardest times (are) when you turn to God.”
A.H. returned, exclaiming that he “heard from my buddies at Sac sheriff” that Mr. Washington “hit your girl” with his vehicle.
Mr. Washington maintained that his girlfriend could be “scared, maybe,” but that he did not hit her.
His girlfriend is set to testify on Monday, March 19, 2018, as the trial resumes in Department 8.