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A family lawyer for a mother of six who died in an accident in June said Cocoa police gave an investigator access to the vehicle for the driver who admitted she was drinking, while the department did not Standard check of the car’s black box conducted this week – about five months after the accident.
“Just yesterday (Monday) the Cocoa police took steps to remove the black box from the car. The black box computer is essential in any investigation into a traffic fatality, as it shows how fast the driver was driving and whether she braked A delay of five months is “inexcusable. Electronic evidence can be lost, “the family lawyer Jessica J. Travis said in a statement to FLORIDA TODAY.
Cocoa police refused to comment on the investigation, but confirmed that they had recently received an arrest warrant to retrieve data from the car that Passion Lucas hit and killed that summer.
Travis was arrested by the Lucas family Tuesday due to their growing concern and frustration with the treatment of the investigation into the Jan.
Particularly worrying for the family is the fact that the driver of the car Lucas hit, Suzanna Norris, has not yet been charged in the case, despite admitting that she was drinking before the accident and that police had her blood alcohol level tested, the results not published publicly.
Police records show Norris was driving north on East Industry Road towards Grissom Parkway at around 2:20 a.m. Norris, police investigators say, “hit an unidentified object,” smashed her windshield and damaged the front of her vehicle just north of the 528 State Road flyover.
According to Travis, while the police failed to conduct a timely investigation, Norris’ attorney Alan Landman had hired an accident investigator to investigate the car that killed Passion Lucas. Travis said the investigator had been given access to the vehicle by the Cocoa Police, while the Lucas family tried, with little success, to get the agency to answer their questions about what happened to Passion.
“The Passion Lucas family are shocked to hear that the DUI driver’s attorney was allowed to prepare a defense prior to arrest,” said the family’s attorney, Travis in her statement.
Cocoa police did not want to comment directly on Travis’ remarks, but in a statement sent to FLORIDA TODAY, Cocoa Police Chief Evander Collier said he was concerned about how the case was handled by his agency.
“In this case, allegations are made and we take each one very seriously. We acknowledge that gross mistakes were made in handling this case and when we heard about it we took immediate action, “said Collier in his statement on Wednesday.
“We are in the process of doing an internal review of how this case was handled from the start. I can assure you that we will investigate any allegation thoroughly, fairly and impartially in order to arrive at the correct and just conclusions. This process takes time and is not rushed, ”said the boss.
Accountability:Cocoa woman fights for responsibility for her sister’s road death in the summer
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Until Travis was hired on Tuesday, Makita Lucas, the slain woman’s sister, said she had not been able to find a lawyer interested in the case. Instead, Makita Lucas had taken her frustrations to social media to question the lack of progress and information on the case.
Chief Collier has now met with Makita Lucas twice to explain his own concerns about the case and the way he was treated by road traffic homicide investigator Benjamin Landis.
Landis filed a second-degree flawed driving misconduct with Norris on November 3 for drinking. The quote did not mention the traffic murder, incorrectly stated the date of the accident and even issued the DUI on the wrong form. In an unusual move, Cocoa police withdrew the subpoena as investigators reviewed the possible charges in the case.
Collier had Landis taken out of the suitcase too. He replaced Landis with another investigator and ordered an administrative review of the case.
Travis said, however, that Passion Lucas’ family cannot understand how Norris escaped arrest, as yet. She noted that Cocoa investigators appeared to be willing to work with Norris’ attorney while ignoring the family’s questions, including the fact that the police took a blood sample from Norris immediately after the accident but did not charge them.
“As they understand, the Cocoa Police Department has the blood alcohol levels that confirm driver Suzanna Norris was drunk and the coroner’s report that Passion died of blunt violent trauma. Still, Ms. Norris remains free and it appears that the Cocoa Police Department worked with her attorney, ”Travis said.
An autopsy report signed by the Brevard County coroner this week shows that Passion Lucas died from multiple blunt trauma. A blood alcohol test by Lucas showed traces of Eutylon, a substance found in bath salts.
Passion Lucas had spoken publicly about her struggles with substance abuse but was focused on being better with her six children, her sister Makita Lucas said.
Norris’ attorney Landman admitted that his client had previously been drinking at a local restaurant, but suggested that Passion Lucas, was out on the road in the dark, had jumped in front of Norris’ car.
Travis denied Landman’s allegations.
“It is insulting that the defense attorney suggested Passion killed himself by jumping in front of the car. Passion left six young children and had a lot to live with,” said Travis.
Travis said the family hoped to learn more about the case.
“The Lucas family deserves transparency. Under the Florida constitution, they have the right to be involved and informed,” said Travis. “Passion Lucas and her family have been denied justice and it has made the mourning process impossible. The life of passion was important. We demand answers.”
JD Gallop is a Criminal Justice / Breaking News reporter for FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Gallop at 321-917-4641 or email@example.com. Twitter: @JDGallop.
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