St. Louis Attorney Kim Gardner’s office is in hot water again as its soft-on-crime prosecutors left a suspected criminal free to commit another crime, this time resulting in the amputation of a teenage victim’s legs.
Daniel Riley, 21, was scheduled to go on trial for the gunpoint robbery he allegedly committed in August 2020, said the victim’s father, Jim Dandridge.
But the charges were dismissed and then refiled.
When asked by a local news team why Riley still hadn’t been tried for the crime, one prosecutor refused to answer while another said it was because the victim was mistakenly identified as deceased, reported local NBC news affiliate, KSDK.
Over the weekend, despite being on house arrest and subject to ankle monitoring, Riley drove without a license and ignored a yield sign, hitting and critically injuring a 17-year-old victim who was in town to play in a volleyball game, reports KMOV TV news.
Video showed Riley’s car refusing to yield while traveling over 40 mph in a 20 mph zone, said KMOV.
As a result of the crash, the victim was pinned between two cars and subsequently lost both legs below the waist, said Jeff Wismer, Assistant Director at Middle Tennessee volleyball club for which the victim played.
Riley was arrested for three counts of assault, armed criminal action, and operating a vehicle without a valid license.
But his arrest won’t begin to satisfy the anger roiling the community.
One cop said he’s tired of the toll that Gardner’s weak approach on crime is taking on families.
“Crime has a devastating impact on communities, causing fear and trauma for victims and their families,” said Lt. Col. Troy Doyle of the St. Louis County Police via Twitter.
“People are fed up with the constant threat of violence and the lack of consequences for perpetrators,” he added.
Riley was free despite the court and prosecutors being notified he violated the terms of his bail over 40 times.
He had been released on his own recognizance and fitted with an anchor monitor to enforce his house arrest.
The judge in the case denied being notified of even one violation, a claim that was later backed up by the court, according to one local news radio station.
“[T]he courts just said that judges don’t get notifications of violations – attorneys on record do. It’s their responsibility to alert the courts. @StLouisCityCA never did [notify the judge],” said local radio anchor Michael Calhoun.
And the robbery victim’s father disputes the claim that the prosecutor needed to re-file after mistakenly identifying his son as dead.
Instead, he claimed Assistant Prosecutor Natalia Ogurkiewicz told the court that she wasn’t ready for trial even after two years.
“She said she had just returned from her honeymoon and wasn’t prepared for trial,” Dandridge told KSDK.
Missouri Senate Leader Caleb Rowden, R-District 19, has called for Gardner’s resignation.
“Kim Gardner is incompetent and grossly unfit to hold her office,” Rowden said via Twitter. “She should resign or I will systematically and aggressively work with my colleagues in the #MOLeg to ensure her incompetence isn’t putting more lives in danger.”
Even Democrats are denouncing the prosecutor’s office after the recent tragedy.
Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-District 73, called the statement put out by Gardner’s office on the Riley case “political BS.”
“The Circuit Attorney’s Office did better to have said nothing,” said Proudie on Twitter. “Lord, have mercy.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the victim and has raised nearly $300,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.