Hours after Colorado Springs police cited the head of the local Republican Party for accidentally hitting and killing a friend with his car last month, prosecutors announced they were dismissing the charges.
Trevor Dierdorff, 45, was driving in reverse on Tejon Street downtown toward a parking spot when he hit longtime Platte Floral owner Mel Tolbert, police said. Tolbert, 79, was critically injured in the March 28 crash and died April 2.
Police issued a statement about 1 p.m. that Dierdorff was being cited with careless driving causing death, a misdemeanor, and failing to exercise due care, a Class A traffic infraction. Three hours later, the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office said the charges would be dropped."For us, it was applying the law to the facts, and we cannot prosecute this case. We told the Police Department that," DA Dan May told The Gazette. "We had told them previously that we are not able to prosecute charges in this case because the law is clear on who has the right of way."
A police spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on the dismissal.
Colorado law says pedestrians must yield to vehicles in the roadway when they're not in a crosswalk, and it is not illegal to drive in reverse on a roadway, according to the District Attorney's Office.
Tolbert was crossing Tejon Street more than 25 feet from the crosswalk and against the light when he was struck by Dierdorff's vehicle, the DA's Office reported. Dierdorff also reportedly checked his rear-view camera and did not see Tolbert when he began reversing, according to the DA's statement.
"We cannot successfully prosecute a case when the pedestrian is the one who's breaking the law and state law is so clear on it," May said.
Earlier, police spokesman Lt. Howard Black said clearly this was not intentional and police had cited Dierdorff with less serious charges while holding him accountable for causing a death.
DA dismisses charges within hours of El Paso County GOP chief being cited in fatal accident