Police arrested a 26-year-old Compton resident who was charged by the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office with vehicular manslaughter and felony hit and run. A 26-year-old Bellflower man was also arrested for being an accessory.
According to details released by police, the car seems to have been used as a weapon after an argument between associates of the victim and the two men. Witnesses reported an argument between two groups of people which started in a Pine Street restaurant, spilled outside and, allegedly, ended with one of the men intentionally backing a vehicle into Serena Medina and another person who survived the incident. Medina died shortly after being struck. According to the newspaper report, she was the mother of a 4-year-old daughter.
An incident in which a driver uses their vehicle as a weapon is just one among many examples of the problem that Los Angeles faces regarding hit-and-run injuries and fatalities. Though most such incidents are the result of negligent or grossly irresponsible behavior, there are too many examples in which murderous intent or road rage is also behind such tragedies. In such cases where criminal charges are brought against someone who caused injury or death, a victim and their family may be entitled to punitive damages. Of course a wrongful death suit for punitive damages will not bring Medina back, but it may send a message about the consequences for using a car as a weapon.