CHICKASAW, Ala. (WKRG) – It was a difficult morning Thursday as Kenya Reed’s family had to relive their loved one’s death to discuss the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the city of Chickasaw and Joseph Michael Hand, former Police Officer of Chickasaw, involved in the fatal crash that killed their 18-year-old daughter and niece.
Reed’s family, their attorneys and Reed’s former teacher spoke at a news conference to discuss the case. The family is represented by the Cochran firm in Dothan and is seeking damages on allegations including negligence, recklessness and recklessness.
The lawsuit alleges that Hand had a history of reckless driving while operating a police vehicle prior to this incident. It also states that Hand was involved in a high-speed chase in a police vehicle in Chickasaw in 2020 when he was instructed by a Saraland police officer to terminate the pursuit.
When he didn’t, Hand crashed into the Saraland police officer’s patrol car.
“We have filed claims against the City of Chickasaw and the officer involved in this action to seek justice and to seek accountability for the actions of this officer that day,” said attorney John Givens. “I promise you we’re going to do this, we’re going to do everything in our power to get that justice and that accountability.”
The civil suit was filed in Mobile County Circuit Court, and attorney John Givens said the undisclosed amount of damages will be determined by a jury.
Reed was leaving Sunday dinner at his mother’s house in Mobile. She was returning to her home in McIntosh on the evening of Jan. 10, 2021, when Hand, who was driving 96 mph in a 30 mph zone, struck the driver’s side of her Honda Accord, according to court documents.
The Alabama law enforcement agency said Reed was driving on West Lee Street near Interstate 65 in Chickasaw, Alabama around 8:00 p.m. when the crash occurred.
Hand left the crime scene unharmed and was later indicted by a grand jury in February 2022 on a charge of negligent homicide. District Attorney Lewis Walker said the case was presented to a grand jury, but the case was dismissed because the indictment came out after the statute of limitations had expired.
Reed, who was a senior at McIntosh High School and wore No. 4 on the basketball court, was named to valedictorian of McIntosh’s Class of 2021.
Her family said the runner, cheerleader, softball and basketball star did it all.
“Kenya, Kenya was a good person,” said Reed’s aunt, Jessica West, wiping away tears. “Whatever she set her mind to, she did. Difficulties came but she didn’t let it get the better of her, she always found a way to figure things out.
Reed’s former geometry teacher, Brittany Simmons, said she had an impact not only on McIntosh High but on the community. Simmons describes her as tenacious, helpful and a servant leader.
“If my daughter could be 80 percent of what Kenya was, I know I would have done a great job,” Simmons said.
When the Chickasaw police chief was reached for comment, he declined, saying the crash happened before his time as chief.