Prosecutor could file more charges against Britt Reid, Kansas City attorneys say
By Glenn E. Rice Updated April 15, 2021 06:06 AM
Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker on Monday said state law limited how many charges she could file against former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid. In a statement announcing a single charge filed against Reid, who is accused of drunken driving in a Feb. 4 crash that severely injured a 5-year-old and hurt three others, Baker said she was constrained by a 2017 change in Missouri law that allows her to charge only the “singular victim” in a DWI crash.
As as result, Baker said, her office charged Reid, 35, with one count of driving while intoxicated resulting in serious physical injury. But attorneys in the Kansas City area this week told The Star Baker could file up to four assault charges against Reid, one each for the driver and three passengers who were injured when the SUV they were in was hit by Reid’s pickup truck on Interstate 435.
Such charges could significantly increase the potential prison sentence for Reid, who was a Chiefs assistant linebackers coach and is the son of Andy Reid, the head coach.
The most severely injured victim in the crash was 5-year-old Ariel Young, who suffered a traumatic brain injury and was hospitalized until earlier this month. But two adults and a child in the SUV were also injured and were taken to a hospital. According to charging documents released Monday, Reid was driving 83 mph in a 65 mph zone in the seconds before the crash just west of Arrowhead Stadium. Testing after the wreck showed Reid’s blood alcohol content measured .113. The legal limit is .08.
“Jean is right when she says she can’t charge the DWI counts against each individual victim,” Kansas City defense attorney John Picerno said Wednesday. “But I don’t think that it prohibits her from charging assault in the second-degree against each individual victim.”Picerno said he had a client in 2018 who had been involved in a similar wreck that injured several people. That client faced multiple charges and ended up serving four years in prison.
Michael Mansur, spokesman for the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office, declined Wednesday to elaborate on Baker’s charging decision and did not comment on whether Baker would file additional charges against Reid.
The change in law Baker cited was part of an overhaul of the state’s criminal code that reorganized DWI assaults, simplified various criminal laws and enhanced felonies and misdemeanors. It also increased prison time for drunk drivers who kill someone. Allen Rostron, a professor of constitutional law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said it seemed to him the charge Baker filed against Reid was appropriate for a crash involving serious physical injuries.“This is an extremely unfortunate event, for everyone involved, but it’s an example of the legal system working as well as possible to address a bad situation.” he said.
The one charge Reid faces now could bring a maximum of seven years in prison. Or it could bring a lesser sentence of probation and 120 days in a county jail, Picerno said. Reid has had prior alcohol-related arrests in Pennsylvania and Arizona. In 2008, he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of a controlled substance in the Philadelphia area, according to prosecutors.
In many cases, prosecutors file multiple charges and use the option of dismissing some of them as a negotiation tool for plea agreements, said Kim Benjamin, a criminal defense attorney and past president of the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. “The perception might be worse on the prosecutor, if they file four counts for four victims, and then dismiss three and only resolve one with some sort of plea agreement,” said Benjamin who has led DWI seminars for other defense attorneys. “The public could be more angry than if prosecutors tried to resolve the most serious one.”
The charges Monday made public more details about the crash investigation than had been available for months. According to the charging documents, police responded to the crash just after 9 p.m. at I-435 and Stadium Drive, just west of the team’s practice facility. Reid told an initial responding officer that he had just left work, according to court records. Reid was driving a 2020 Dodge Ram pickup on the entrance ramp to southbound I-435 and was driving at nearly 20 mph over the speed limit when he rear-ended a Chevrolet Impala stalled on the side of the road, according to the police investigation. The impact caused Reid to steer right then hard left in an attempt to correct, according to the charging documents. Reid continued south, traveling 67 mph when he crashed into the back of a Chevrolet Traverse parked just over 200 feet south of the Impala.
Ariel and the three other injured people were in the Traverse.
Reid was taken to a hospital after complaining of stomach pain. He suffered a groin injury that required surgery. Once at the hospital, police obtained a search warrant and collected blood samples. Ariel suffered a parietal fracture, brain contusions and subdural hematoma. Tom Porto, an attorney representing Ariel’s family, said Ariel was released from the hospital April 2 and is being treated at home. She was unable to talk or walk and was being fed through a feeding tube.
Reid left the team’s coaching staff after eight seasons. The team placed Reid on administrative leave following the crash and allowed his contract to expire without being renewed.
Porto said he has urged prosecutors to file most serious charges that would guarantee the most significant punishment. “My understanding is that the most serious charge that could have been filed has been filed under these circumstances,” Porto said Wednesday. “If there is a more serious charge that could have been filed and has not been filed, there needs to be an explanation as to why not.”