25-year-old Henrico man killed by suspected drunk driver was the ‘heart of the family’

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HENRICO, Va. (WRIC) — 25-year-old Rashard Thornton was the heart of his family.

He was also Winston Thornton’s little brother.

“His heart was so big that he just affected everybody,” W. Thornton explained. “You couldn’t be around him and not smile.”

R. Thornton’s bright smile disappeared when he died abruptly in December.

Henrico Police say a drunk driver blew through a stop sign at the intersection of Coxson and Eubank Roads and then crashed into the victim’s car. 

“He jumped out the car. ‘I was like are you ok?’ and then you could smell the alcohol and stuff on his breath,” recalled crash witness Chrishae Oliver, who lives a few houses from where it happened. 

Oliver vividly remembers how the accused, Charles Johnson, reacted when he saw R. Thornton seriously hurt on the ground.

“He was just pacing back and forth,” she said. “He was panicking and he kept trying to pick up the man. I’m like, ‘something’s really wrong with you.'”

According to court documents, the suspect had been drinking and smoking marijuana in the hours leading up to the crash. Johnson even admitted to taking the prescription painkiller Percocet three or four hours earlier.

This week, prosecutors charged the Charles City man with vehicular manslaughter, DUI, driving on a suspended or revoked license, reckless driving and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Three of those charges are felonies.

“As long as the judge ain’t lenient, that’s justice,” the victim’s brother said. “I want him to have enough time to sit down and recognize what he did.”

Johnson is in the Henrico County Jail with no bond. He has a lengthy criminal history that dates back nearly two decades.

“He can sober up and say that he’s sorry, but he’s gone at the end of the day,” W. Thornton added. “My brother’s gone.”

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