The 15-year-old Gaithersburg, Md. student who was struck by a police cruiser, Friday night, has little recollection of the incident, according to her mother. Janaya Richards suffered a broken pelvis and significant head trauma. She remains in the intensive care unit at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
Shortly after the football game at Watkins Mill H.S. ended, Friday night, Montgomery Co. Police say a series of fights broke out on nearby streets. Eight police officers were already there, but they called for backup.
Two cruisers with emergency lights on were driving toward the school on Apple Ridge Road (which is adjacent to the school property).
"At one point, a 15-year-old female student (from Watkins Mill) stepped off the curb and walked or ran between two of the cruisers who were responding on that street." explained Capt. Paul Starks of the Montgomery Co. Police Dept.
Sophomore Janaya Richards was struck by the second police car driven by Cpl. Ray Bennett, an 18-year veteran of the force. Bennett has been placed on administrative leave.
Freshman Junior Sassa says the sound of the car striking the student was very loud. "I was just walking home," recalled Sassa. "Walking down here to meet my mom across the street. And then I heard a loud smack. And then we thought it was a gunshot. Everybody ran."
Police officers administered first aid until an ambulance took the injured student to Suburban Hospital, where she remains in the intensive care unit.
Janaya Richards suffered significant head trauma, according to her mother, Rosita Richards. "She does have some pelvic damage," explained Rosita Richards in an interview. "She has a fracture to the right side of her pelvic bone. She does have some bleeding in her brain.... They're keeping an eye on it. They're doing an MRI every few hours."
Rosita Richards is hopeful her daughter will recover fully.
The police department's accident reconstruction unit is investigating the incident. Cpl. Bennett is on administrative leave. Mrs. Richards suspects what happened was simply an accident.
"There was just a lot of chaos going on," said Rosita Richards with a sign. "I'm sure her mind was on a lot of things that were going on. And it just... she went on action, you know, without thinking first. So, it's just one of those tragic, unfortunate events that happen. No pointing blame at either party."
Rosita Richards says, so far, her daughter Janaya has almost no recollection of the incident that has put her in intensive car.