Woman charged in fatal crash out on bail

Corrections officer, 24, says she doesn't recall accident, marijuana in car

`She's a homebody,' attorney says

State's jail commissioner promises probe, firing

July 02, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A corrections officer who was arrested after a car crash that killed her passenger Sunday morning has been freed on bail and says she recalls nothing about the accident or the 2-gallon bag of marijuana police say they found in her car, her attorney said.

Shawnisha Lucas, 24, was charged Sunday with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, as well as driving under the influence of alcohol.

At a bail review hearing yesterday, Lucas' bail was reduced from $300,000 to $75,000. She was released last night from the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Lucas' lawyer, Paul Kramer, said his client had no recollection of the 5 a.m. Sunday crash in the 1700 block of Bloomingdale Road that police allege she caused and no knowledge of the marijuana police say they found in her car.

"She has never been known to use drugs," Kramer said. "She went out to socialize with friends, and the next thing she knows she was in this accident. At this point, she doesn't remember much."

The impact of the crash, which involved three parked vehicles, caused passenger Talia Lyles to be thrown through the windshield of Lucas' white Buick. Lyles, 24, died three hours later at Bon Secours Hospital. Lucas, 24, of Bolton Hill, suffered no apparent injuries.

Charging documents allege that after the crash Lucas was giggling, stumbling and denying that she was the driver of the car as her friend lay bleeding on the ground.

Police learned Lucas was the driver when a bystander pointed her out among a crowd that had gathered on the street after the accident, documents said.

"Shawnisha Lucas was swaying and had a hard time keeping her balance," the report said.

"Further interviewing Ms. Lucas, she denied driving the vehicle and laughing about it stating, `I was just joking.' She then admitted to being the driver," the report continued.

A Breathalyzer test found Lucas to have a blood-alcohol level of 0.13 percent, according to charging documents. The legal limit in Maryland is 0.08 percent.

LaMont W. Flanagan, commissioner of the state's Division of Pretrial Detention and Services, said he is investigating whether Lucas was doing anything inappropriate or illegal on the job. She was hired by the division about four months ago and worked the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift.

"We are currently doing our own parallel investigation based on arrest documents," he said.

The commissioner said yesterday that he had completed paperwork to terminate Lucas' employment and said that it will take a few weeks for the personnel action to become official.

"The fact that this incident produced a death is a tragedy," Flanagan said. "This does not reflect on the corrections officers who put their lives on the line daily."

Lucas had been subject to a mandatory six-month probationary period at the jail because she was a new employee.

Before becoming a corrections officer, she worked for a mortgage company, her lawyer said. She lives with her mother and two daughters, ages 2 and 5.

"You have a working mother with two children who has worked since she was 18 years old," Kramer said. "She's a homebody type."

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