RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The jury trial for a Richmond police officer charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with a crash that resulted in the death of two teens last year is set to begin today.
Richard Johnson faces four charges — including two counts of involuntary manslaughter — in relation to the crash. He was indicted by a special grand jury on July 12, 2022.
On April 7, 2022, Jeremiah Ruffin, 18, and Tracey Williams, 19, were involved in a crash with Richmond police officers. The Richmond Police Department reported that Johnson and another officer had been responding to a burglary call when they hit Ruffin and Williams’ Buick sedan at Bells Road and Castlewood Road in South Richmond. Ruffin and Williams were ejected from their vehicle and later died from their injuries.
The Richmond Police Department reported in July that Johnson had been placed on unpaid leave and the department’s administrative process was pending the completion of the criminal process. The grand jury also indicted Johnson on two misdemeanors — reckless driving and failure to yield the right of way.
Last week, Williams’ mother –Tiara Williams — agreed to a $3.1 million wrongful death compromise settlement with Johnson and the City of Richmond. The lawsuit claimed Johnson was driving a police vehicle without activating sirens and traveling at twice the speed limit when he went through a red light.
In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, Johnson denied the allegations against him and asserted that he “acted lawfully and with legal justification.” Johnson claimed in the filing that he and another officer were responding to a breaking and entering, and “the police vehicle’s emergency lights and sirens were engaged.”
The two-day jury trial is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Monday, April 24, and continue at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, April 25.