Motorist who killed pedestrian Pei Chen in KC convicted of careless driving

Melieka M. Perkins, the driver who driving over 30 MPH in a posted school zone, illegally swerved around a line of cars stopped for pedestrian Pei Chen, crossing in a crosswalk, striking and killing Chen, has been convicted of careless and imprudent driving.

Perkins will be sentenced at a hearing on July 11th.

Read the KCStar's story on Perkin's conviction here. Read MoBikeFed's previous coverage of this story here, here, and here; a summary of public comment about the incident here; commentary on the incident from The Bus Stop here.

According to prosecutors and police officials who spoke with the Missouri Bicycle Federation during discussions about legislation proposed by MoBikeFed during the last legislative session, the next step should be to charge Perkins with second degree involuntary manslaughter. According to Missouri law, second degree involuntary manslaughter is "criminal negligence to cause the death of any person."

Clearly, in this case, both elements of second degree involuntary manslaughter are present: criminal negligence ("careless and imprudent driving") and a resultant death.

As usual in Missouri, however, no such manslaughter charges are forthcoming. Rather, Perkins' only conviction for carelessly and criminally (because driving carelessly is a criminal action) causing the death of another person will be misdemeanor.

Careless and imprudent driving is a misdemeanor with a sentence of up to one year in jail.

Such light sentences in cases where drivers carelessly cause the death of another is one reason careless driving and driver disregard of cyclist and pedestrian rights and safety are so common in Missouri.

If you want this situation to change in Missouri, please support MoBikeFed's effort to re-introduce the bike/ped safety legislation next legislative session.