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Fast Car

Speed Kills

You may have seen a “slow down, speed kills” sign while driving in your neighborhood, or at an intersection by a school. Chances are, you adjust your speed slightly and ease off the gas before accelerating again without a second thought. But did you know that 6,516 pedestrians were killed by motor vehicles in 2020 alone? These fatalities primarily happen in urban settings, at non-intersections and/or at night. This post will compare and contrast two cases of pedestrian motor vehicle crashes, both involving female drivers, to reveal disparities in the criminal justice system.


Two Tragedies, Two Women

On September 29, 2020, a crash occurred in the residential neighborhood of Westlake Village, Los Angeles. The driver was Rebecca Grossman, a white, 57 year old socialite and philanthropist. Grossman had been driving her white, Mercedes SUV 30mph over the 45mph speed limit before hitting two brothers (ages 8 and 11) who were crossing an intersection. Grossman’s car slowed after impact, at 7:30pm, then she fled without exiting the vehicle to check on the children. Her driving records indicate that her license had been revoked for a year, due to reckless driving.

Courtesy of Getty Images, creator: sshepard

Two years later at 1:30pm on the 4th of August, a black Mercedes coupe crashed into a commercial intersection at Windsor Hills, Los Angeles. This time the driver was 37 year old Nicole Linton, who had been speeding at 130mph in a 50mph zone. Linton, a Black immigrant from Jamaica, had just finished a shift as a traveling nurse at a nearby hospital. The accident killed one child and five adults, including one pregnant woman. Prior to this incident, Linton had been involved in two crashes and had three speeding violations.


Separate, but equal?

The following quotes from the article describe Linton, who was has been diagnosed as bipolar:

  • “[Had] violent and aggressive behavior during past mental health episodes”

  • “[Displays] increasingly frightening behavior”

  • “Exhibits an ongoing disregard for the safety of others on the road”

  • “The day of the crash, Linton drove home from the hospital for lunch and FaceTimed her sister completely naked”

  • “Was conscious and deliberate in her driving”

"This NASCAR-worthy performance flies in the face of the notion that she was unconscious or incapacitated"

In comparison, these quotes were used to describe Grossman:

  • “Influenced by alcohol”

  • “[Had actions] like those of thousands of Californians who drive recklessly”

  • “Didn’t come back to the scene, didn’t render aid”

  • “…Clearly drove in a reckless and dangerous manner”

  • “Is co-founder and chairwoman of the Grossman Burn Foundation”

Conclusions

After being deemed a flight risk and denied bail, Linton faces six counts of murder, five counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and if convicted can spend up to 90 years in prison. Her request to be transferred to a psychiatric hospital was denied and she is scheduled to be arraigned on October 26. Grossman faces two counts of murder, two counts of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and one count of hit-and-run driving. If convicted she faces 34 years to life in prison. She paid a two million dollar bail and is currently awaiting trial after a Superior Court Judge declined to dismiss the murder charges. Both women have entered not guilty pleas.


The article about Grossman does not describe to her character or mental state. Instead, it points to her actions on this particular occasion. The implication is that Grossman, only acted this way due to intoxication, whereas Linton is fundamentally unstable and ready to go off at any moment. These depictions are liable to sway jurors when the cases go to court.


The vehicular manslaughter cases of Linton and Grossman are simultaneously similar and dissimilar. Their fates are dependent not only on the severity of the crime committed, but also on race, class and mental health factors.

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