According to KIRO7 news, a 35-year-old man was driving an SUV near the 3600 block of Auburn Way South at approximately 11:45 p.m. Wednesday. At approximately the same time, a police officer who was in the area received a call about a nearby burglary in progress and activated his emergency lights and sirens.
This apparently spooked the driver of the SUV, who was reportedly wanted on a felony escape warrant for first degree manslaughter. When the police officer activated his lights and started heading toward the burglary call, the driver of the SUV took off instead of pulling to the side of the road to allow the officer to pass. The officer was unaware that the driver had an outstanding warrant, and continued on to respond to the burglary call.
Shortly after being spooked by the police officer’s lights and sirens, the driver of the SUV – who has since been identified as 35-year-old Russell Ward – lost control of the vehicle and hit a female pedestrian who was walking on a nearby sidewalk. The SUV flipped and came to rest on top of another vehicle in the Muckleshoot Casino parking lot after striking the pedestrian.
More Details Lead to More Questions
The pedestrian, identified as 44-year-old Rachella Partman, was pronounced dead at the scene. Ward was ejected from the vehicle and suffered undisclosed injuries as a result of the collision. There were no additional details available regarding his injuries or condition at the hospital.
Ward was reportedly released from prison in 2011 after being convicted on a manslaughter charge in 2005. Officials with the ever-troubled Department of Corrections (DOC) have since told reporters that a warrant was issued for Ward’s arrest on February 23rd – about a week before the crash occurred – after he had failed to report to his community supervision office.
However, DOC officials also admitted that Ward has failed to follow the terms of his release a total of 17 times since his 2011 release. The DOC has come under fire since Wednesday’s crash, and has defended the way it has handled cases similar to Ward’s.
“I’d say we have not failed,” said Anmarie Aylward, an assistant secretary for DOC’s community corrections department. “DOC has an incredibly difficult job.”
Davis Law Group’s History with Department of Corrections
The DOC is responsible for constantly supervising an estimated 17,000 ex-convicts through community supervision. Aylward says that there are approximately 2,500 ex-convicts involved in the community supervision program who may be missing and have warrants for their arrest at any time. When an ex-convict fails to follow the terms of their release, officials are tasked with tracking them down and placing them under arrest so that they may be taken into custody by the DOC.
For victims of the crash involving Mr. Ward – or any of the 2,500 other ex-convicts the DOC estimates are missing or unaccounted for – this situation presents a series of troubling and complex legal questions. Is the DOC doing everything within its power to find these criminals and keep the public safe? Did the DOC have any way of knowing where Mr. Ward was and taking him into custody before he took Rachella Partman’s life?
The attorneys at Davis Law Group have faced these difficult questions in the past, and in some cases have found that the Department of Corrections has failed to properly supervise dangerous criminals. These failures have compromised the public’s safety and even resulted in serious injuries and deaths to otherwise innocent, good people.
In one particular case, DOC officials failed to act on information about the location of a serial felon who eventually caused a fatal crash, killing one man and seriously injuring his girlfriend and her son. In that case, attorneys Chris Davis and Greg Colburn successfully recovered a substantial settlement for the victims and the estate of the man who was killed.