CHICKASAW, Ala. (WKRG) — It was a difficult Thursday morning, as the family of Kenya Reed had to relive the passing of their loved one to discuss the wrongful death lawsuit they filed against the city of Chickasaw and Jospeh Michael Hand, the former Chickasaw police officer 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 press conference to address the lawsuit. The family is represented by The Cochran Firm in Dothan and is seeking compensation on counts including Negligence, recklessness and wantonness.
The lawsuit claims Hand had a history of reckless driving while operating a police vehicle before this incident. It also states Hand was involved in a high-speed pursuit in a Chickasaw police vehicle 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 cruiser.
“We filed claims against the city of Chickasaw and the officer involved in this action to seek justice and to obtain accountability for the actions of that officer that day,” said attorney John Givens. “I promise you we will do that, we will do everything in our power to obtain that justice and that accountability.”
The civil case is filed in Mobile County Circuit Court and attorney John Givens said the undisclosed amount of damages would be determined by a jury.
Reed was leaving Sunday dinner at her mom’s house in Mobile. She was traveling back to her home in McIntosh on the evening of Jan. 10, 2021, when Hand, who was driving 96 mph in a 30 mph speed zone, struck the driver side of her Honda Accord, according to the lawsuit documents.
The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reported Reed was driving on West Lee Street near Interstate 65 in Chickasaw, Alabama around 8 p.m. when the crash happened.
Hand left the scene uninjured and was later indicted by a grand jury in February of 2022 on a criminally negligent homicide charge. District Attorney Louis Walker said the case was presented to a grand jury, however, the case was dismissed because the indictment came after the statute of limitations ended.
Reed, was a McIntosh High School senior who wore number 4 on the basketball court, was set to be Valedictorian of McIntosh’s graduating class of 2021.
Her family said the track runner, cheerleader, softball and basketball star did it all.
“Kenya, Kenya was a go-getter,” said Reed’s aunt, Jessica West, wiping her tears. “Whatever she set her mind into doing, she did. Difficulties came but she did not let that outdo her, she always found the way to figure things out.”
Reed’s former geometry teacher, Brittany Simmons, said she had an impact not only on McIntosh High School, but also on the community. Simmons described her as tenacious, helpful and a servant leader.
“If my daughter could be 80% of who Kenya was, I know I would’ve done a great job,” said Simmons.
When we reached out to the Chickasaw Police Chief for a comment, he declined, saying the crash happened before his time as Chief.