Guilty Verdict In Murder Trial Refocused Attention On “Improper And Negligent” High Speed Police Pursuit
Angel McIntyre's family, and friend who miraculously survived the crash, fight for justice and accountability following suburban Philadelphia tragedy
Philadelphia, PA (March 8, 2023) – Angel Christine McIntyre, 18, had plans, big plans following high school graduation; they included college, leading to a career in law enforcement. Those plans and her life ended on July 16, 2020, when she was killed in a crash that her family and Matthew Munafo, the critically-injured driver of the car in which she was a passenger, assert in a federal lawsuit (C. Donahue v. Boroughs of Collingdale, Darby et al. - 2:22-cv-01695) was the result of an “improper and negligent” high-speed police pursuit in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, in violation of Angel’s and Matthew’s civil rights.
Anthony Jones, who was driving the vehicle that ran a red light – during the police pursuit at speeds exceeding 84 mph – and broadsided Angel’s and Matthew’s car as it was traveling through an intersection along MacDade Blvd. in Glenolden, was convicted last Friday at his Delaware County Court of Common Pleas trial on murder and related charges. However, the outcome of that trial only signals the start of the next chapter in the effort to also hold accountable the entities and individuals allegedly responsible, under state and federal law, for Angel’s death and Matthew’s life-altering injuries. The defendants named in the civil lawsuit include the two borough police departments (Collingdale and Darby) and individual officers allegedly responsible for unjustifiably and unnecessarily initiating and then escalating the events that started with a routine, low-speed traffic stop (failing to signal a turn) and ended in the high-speed lethal crash.
Angel’s family, including mother Christina Donahue and sister Kristyanna Dellavecchia-Donahue (she was an eyewitness to the crash, riding nearby in another vehicle), and Matthew, thrown 50 feet from his car upon impact and still recovering from numerous severe injuries including traumatic brain injury (TBI), attended Jones’ trial. They are also plaintiffs in the wrongful death and negligence civil action pending in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the two police departments, three individually named police officers, and upwards of ten additional hot-pursuit participating officers whose identities will be determined through pre-trial discovery, according to plaintiffs’ attorneys from Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. G&E’s legal team includes trial attorneys Adam J. Gomez, Steven A. Medina, and Cynthia B. Morgan. Defendants’ motion to dismiss the complaint was denied last August by Judge Michael M. Baylson.
“Angel should be alive today,” explained attorney Gomez, “and the full measure of justice includes not only Jones’ criminal prosecution but also now determining through the civil justice system all the facts surrounding the negligent and reckless police conduct, starting with training and supervision failures, that culminated in the death of Angel and the lifelong injuries – physical and emotional – to the survivors. The plaintiffs want to make sure that while this collateral death-by-hot-pursuit is, thankfully, rare in Pennsylvania law enforcement, it never happens again. Angel was, indeed, an angel to her friends, family and community. In her memory, her family moves forward to prevent other senseless deaths.”
Mr. Gomez added, “Police officers have incredibly challenging, pressure-filled jobs, especially those that patrol our communities. While the vast majority of those officers perform at a very high level and by the book, there are those cases where the police misconduct is so patently unconscionable that the culprits must be held to account. To ignore their inexcusable behavior would be an affront to the law enforcement profession and the citizens they take an oath to protect.”
The complaint asserts that the police defendants involved in the incident knew the Ford Escape they were pursuing for a suspected minor traffic violation was occupied by two young children in the rear seats as well as an infant seated on the lap of the front-seat passenger. They also knew, or should have known, the foreseeably lethal danger posed by such a high-speed pursuit to innocent bystanders and motorists, like Angel and Matthew. Despite this knowledge, it is alleged that the officers continued their pursuit, fixated on arresting the driver for his suspected inoperable taillight, no matter the consequences.
Rather than terminate the pursuit, in conscious disregard of a great risk of harm during the course of the pursuit and contrary to the vehicle pursuit policies that were or should have been promulgated by their respective police departments, the Police Officer Defendants continued to pursue Jones at a high rate of speed down MacDade Boulevard, in a mixed-use residential and commercial area with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour, according to the complaint. It is estimated that Angel was killed after the chase reached speeds between 84 and 95 miles per hour.
Adam J. Gomez
Steven A. Medina
Cynthia B. Morgan
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