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Prosecuting Attorney Kim Gardner. Photo: video.

Ouster sought of St. Louis circuit attorney over handling of traffic accident

Kim Gardner, the progressive St. Louis circuit attorney, refused to resign after Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey earlier this week issued an ultimatum. Now Bailey has started legal proceedings to remove her from office.

According to Bailey, the three claims made in the petition to remove are that Gardner has failed to prosecute cases pending in her jurisdiction; she has failed in her statutory and moral duty to stay in contact with victims of crime; and she has failed by not charging new cases referred to her by the police.

“At the end of the day, this is about the rule of law and about justice,” Bailey said. “It is illegal to fail to discharge your duties in office.”

In an earlier statement, the attorney general pointed to a horrific incident in downtown St. Louis last weekend in which an out-of-town teenager was run over and had to have both of her legs amputated. In Bailey’s view, Gardner’s neglect as a city prosecutor is at fault: The driver who caused the accident was out on bond as he awaited trial for armed robbery.

Janae Edmondson, 16, visited St. Louis with her family last Saturday for a volleyball tournament. While the family in the downtown area, a speeding driver failed to yield and caused a collision, ultimately striking Edmondson. She remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Janae Edmondson, 16, visited St. Louis with her family on Saturday for a volleyball tournament. While the family was in the downtown area, 21-year-old Daniel Riley

“As AG, I want to protect the people of St. Louis, and that includes protecting victims of crime and finding justice for them,” he said. “Instead of protecting victims, Circuit Attorney Gardner is creating them. My office will do everything in its power to restore order and eliminate the chaos in St. Louis caused by Kim Gardner’s neglect of her office.”

Many officials, including Democrats, joined in criticizing Gardner. President Pro Tem Caleb Rowden of the Missouri Senate said Gardner should resign, calling her “incompetent and grossly unfit to hold her office.” Democratic St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones said Gardner had “lost the trust of the people” but did not say she should resign.

The suspect, 21-year-old Daniel Riley, is being held at the St. Louis City Justice Center on five charges, including unlicensed operation of a vehicle and felony assault. At the time of the incident, he was out on bond for an August 2020 robbery case.

St. Louis television station KTVI reported the teen already had committed to playing Division II volleyball in college, but the severity of her injuries are likely to prevent her from ever playing again. A GoFundMe campaign to support Edmondsons’ family raised more than $343,000 as of Wednesday night.

Janae’s family has received an outpouring of support, including financial donations to GoFundMe page the Mid TN Volleyball club set up. As of early Wednesday evening, the fundraiser had collected more than $556,000 from volleyball teams and well-wishers across the country.

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice

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