Today it became final.
A little over 10 months after 17-year old high school student Alex Romero was run down in a high speed hit-and-run — and long after many of us had given up on seeing justice in this case — Dominique Rush was sentenced to prison for leaving him to die in the street.
Fortunately, the police never gave up — despite the efforts of her father to hide evidence linking Dominique to the crime. He was also sentenced to jail Tuesday for having the car repaired, then sent to a junkyard to keep it hidden from police.
Frankly, I don’t know which disturbs me more.
A young woman snuffing out the life of a popular and promising young man, then fleeing like a cold-blooded coward. Or a father who goes out of his way to help his daughter avoid responsibility.
And don’t even try to pretend that any parent would do the same thing. My father would have marched me into the nearest police station for a lot less than that.
As reported here by cyclist and attorney Dj Wheels, Dominique and her father accepted a plea deal in January that will put her behind bars for two years and eight months for vehicular manslaughter and leaving the scene, while father Steven Rush will serve just 10 days in jail as an accessory after the fact.
According to Wheels, Dominique was given credit for time served and good behavior, slicing over 300 days off her sentence. The L.A. Daily News notes her time will be served in county jail as part of the state’s prison realignment program.
In addition to 10 days in jail, Steven was sentenced to three years in jail and 30 days of community service. Hopefully, he’ll do his service somewhere he can see the results of drivers like his daughter, so the magnitude of his actions may actually sink in.
Wheels, who was in the courtroom Tuesday, reports that it was very painful and emotional to listen to the testimony from family members, who showed 20 minutes of family photos. He says Dominique wept openly during the slideshow, while her father showed little emotion.
KCBS-2 reports that Dominique offered a tearful apology.
“I’ll never be able to forgive myself,” said Rush. “And I’m sorry for all the pain that I caused his family.”
Bizarrely, KCBS also reports that, despite their actions, Stephen insisted that there was no attempt to coverup the crime.
Her father also apologized. “IT was never our intention to hide, or stay away from anything,” he said.
Nice to know they weren’t trying to hide anything in the four months police were searching for the driver and the car they had junked after having it repaired.
According to KCBS, Romero’s mother considers the sentences punishment fair for the crimes committed.
Less than three years seems like a very generous sentence for taking the life of another human being, then fleeing the scene and trying to destroy the evidence. But that just goes to show how lenient our traffic laws are, especially when it comes to hit-and-run.
And just 10 days for the attempted coverup is an inexplicable gift for which her father should be eternally grateful.
Alex received the death penalty for their actions.
And his family suffered a loss in their hearts and lives that can never be filled.
Thanks to the LAPD and all the officers involved in this investigation, as well as the prosecutors who helped get justice for the Romero family. The Rushes are behind bars tonight because the police refused to give up on this case.
A group of cyclists lead by leading L.A. bike advocate Roadblock met with the L.A. Police Commission Tuesday morning to request that hit-and-run collisions involving cyclists and pedestrians be taken more seriously by police.
And yes, I was one of them, along with the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition staff member Bobby Gadda, to represent the LACBC. As well more than a dozen others who took time out of their day to fight for greater safety on our streets.
The Commissioners and Chief Beck were very receptive, and have asked for specific examples of cases where people feel the police weren’t responsive enough or didn’t take their case seriously.
If you were the victim of a hit-and-run and weren’t satisfied with the police response, let me know and I’ll forward your story to the right people in the department. You can find my email address on the About BikingInLA page.
Update: Bicycle Fixation’s Richard Risemberg forwards news of yet another violent hit-and-run, in which a 91-year old woman was critically injured in Lincoln Heights, and left lying in the street by the heartless coward behind the wheel.
Evidently, the was operating two vehicles at once, as the Times reports police are looking for a white Toyota or beige Honda Accord with a cracked windshield and front bumper damage. The driver is described as a Latina between between 53 and 58 years old, weighing around 170 pounds.
This has got to stop.