[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.]
Update: See below for a major update on the story.
In Colorado Springs, a tow truck driver named Alan Rose was trying to tow an SUV when something went horribly wrong:
Hundreds of people gathered together Thursday night to remember a man who was dragged to his death in Colorado Springs.
35-year-old Allen Rose was trying to tow an SUV from the Hill Park Apartments Wednesday when a woman jumped inside the car and drove off.
Rose’s leg got tangled up in a cable that broke away from his the tow truck as the SUV drove away.
The woman drove for more than a mile with Rose dragging behind her vehicle before he became disentangled….
“This man, he served in Iraq twice for us. This man was a good citizen. This is not right,” says Shelton.
Police have spoken with the woman who dragged Rose, but they have not yet arrested her.
People at the vigil said she is a juvenile.
A memorial fund has been set up for Rose’s wife and two children at any Key Bank.
This recalls the dragging murder of James Byrd, although obviously there are two significant differences. First, so far there is no suggestion of a racial issue, here, while it was exceedingly obvious that Bryd was killed because he was black. Second, it’s not 100% clear it was intentional. In the video one man says the person was screaming, but I am not sure that was anything but speculation. A stupid, clueless teenager, with the music turned way up… is it possible to do this entirely by accident? It’s possible, but I am not sure how plausible that is.
But it seems that if at any point she was aware she was dragging him, it would have to be first degree murder. Initially catching the man’s leg as she drove was almost certainly an accident, but if she became aware he was back there at any point, then from that moment onward, she was intentionally dragging him. In other words, it started as an accident, but if she knew it was happening, it continued intentionally. And contrary to what a thousand courtroom dramas have told you, the element of premeditation doesn’t require some elaborate plan far in advance (although prosecutors are always happy to be able to have that). In most jurisdictions, it just requires the slightest second to consider what you are doing. If the police decide not to charge her, then, I think this driver’s family deserves to hear an explanation as to why.
Anyone who knows me knows I have a very real hate-hate relationship with the towing companies. Having a company tow your car—illegally—on the night before your wedding will do that to you. I believe, frankly, that the arrangement most communities have with towing companies are a violation of the Due Process Clause. They are empowered by the state to commit legalized theft—that is to deprive you of your property without the slightest due process. And of course every time they take a car—legally or not—they can hold it until you pay a fine, and then you are forced to go to court and try to get the difference back. Very often the money you lose just by the act of going to court—in terms of missed work—exceeds any potential reimbursement, creating a powerful incentive for ordinary people not to fight it. Thus this system actually gives an incentive to violate of your rights. Of course the police have an incentive to give you more tickets, but at least that is counter-balanced by the fact that the police department ultimately answers to the people. Towing companies answer only to state regulators, which clearly doesn’t provide much of an incentive for good behavior.
But none of that ever justifies just plain violence, let alone first degree murder. I am sincerely sad for his family and if you are inclined, you might consider donating to that memorial fund mentioned in the article.
Update: Thanks to SarahW who gives us this link to a more timely discussion of the story. Apparently we learn the name of the driver, Detra Farries. She is thirty two years old, thus not a juvenile as previously believed and she maintains it was all an accident. She has also been arrested and charged with manslaughter.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]