Raul Meza Portillo was arrested in connection with last night's fatal hit and run crash at Mill/Baseline. Portillo struck the victim who was on a bike and dragged her several hundred feet before leaving the scene. Impairment may be a factor. He is facing 2 felony charges. pic.twitter.com/qHuR2xfxuS
— Tempe Police Department (@TempePolice) April 3, 2021
Crash Friday evening around 7:30PM, 4/2/2021. Tempe police say a driver of a pickup towing a trailer made a left northbound Mill turning onto westbound Baseline collided with a 41 y.o. female bicycle. She was dragged to her death, and the driver fled the scene. Police arrested a suspect, Raul Meza Portillo, around 1AM at his home. That he was held on suspicion of 2nd degree murder, as well as leaving the scene indicate police believe he both was intoxicated at the time, and caused the crash.
None of the news stories indicate where the bicyclist was riding; was she struck in the crosswalk? See this 2018 fatality involving a left-turning driver striking a bicyclist using a crosswalk, Tempe has an, um, interesting take on bicyclists in crosswalks.
I was unable to find a Tempe Police news release, other than the tweet listed, above. It’s obvious they have some other way to “release” info. In any event, various outlets carried varying tidbits of information (empahsis added):
Tempe man arrested in hit-and-run crash that killed bicyclist
… Police said they arrested 40-year-old Raul Meza Portillo at his Tempe home for allegedly causing a fatal crash at Mill Avenue and Baseline Road on Friday night.
Investigators said just before 7:30 p.m. Portillo was driving and making a left turn from northbound Mill Avenue to westbound Baseline Road when he hit a 41-year-old woman riding a bike.
PD: Driver arrested in fatal bicyclist hit-and-run near Mill Avenue and Broadway
… Portillo was driving a Nissan Titan pickup truck and was pulling a trailer when the crash happened.
… Police said he fled the scene and was tracked down just after 1 a.m. at his home.
… Authorities said officers were able to get information to show Portillo was aware he was involved in the crash.
… The release also says that Portillo did not stop during the collision and continued driving until the victim was dislodged from underneath the vehicle, nearly 100 feet from the spot of the crash.
… They said he admitted to being involved in a crash. He was arrested on second degree murder charges and hit-and-run resulting in death.
Crosswalk? yes… (#crosswalk)
Tempe police have revealed some more details. fox10 reported on Tuesday (the crash was Friday evening) that:
“There was a truck and a landscape-type trailer that was turning left from Mill to Baseline, and it was at that time when the driver collided with a cyclist that was trying to cross on marked crosswalk,” said Sgt. Steven Carbajal with the Tempe Police Department.
Investigators say the suspect admitted to being the only person driving the truck, and admitting that he consumed a handful of beers.
Court documents say he had watery eyes, alcohol odor, and slurred speech. The paperwork also says the suspect is in the United States illegally…
This might prove to be a problem for (county) prosecutors because in a very similarly configured fatal crash the City of Tempe stated at the time:
[referring to the 2018 crash]… both the bicyclist and driver of the vehicle had a green light. Please keep in mind that bicycles are not afforded any legal protection by a crosswalk or a walk sign because they are not pedestrians.
Tempe does indeed have a bad local law that disadvantages bicyclists who are legally riding on a sidewalk, and they inexplicably neglected to do anything about when they re-wrote a major portion of their bike code in 2019. Hey LAB, is this bicycle friendly?
Hit-and-run — regardless of fault — is by law a serious felony, but as I’ve detailed many times here, the justice system treats it as a throw away crime; it typically nets drivers (the ones who get caught, that is) a brief incarceration followed by some probation (even when they violate probation by driving with a revoked license?! Amazing but true), though it’s not uncommon to receive only probation with a suspended sentence.
We see this isn’t Raul Portillo’s first trip to superior court, there was some sort of identity theft case in 2005. Anyway, the manslaughter / hit-and-run is:
History: www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/CriminalCourtCases/caseInfo.asp?caseNumber=CR2021-112435 Minutes: courtminutes.maricopa.gov/JONamesearch.asp?casenumber=CR2021112435
The most recent minute entry at this time (6/3) is guilty plea deal accepted, avoiding trial. Sentencing is scheduled for 6/28.
Sentencing order is here. He plead guilty to a dangerous manslaughter, yielding a minimum 7 year prison sentence (minus credit for time already served). The guilty to the hit-and-run is non-dangerous and as is usual doesn’t really get any punishment (maybe some extra probation?).
The “dangerous” stipulation is very unusual; perhaps there was something else going on(?). Pleading to a dangerous class 2 guarantees the 7 year minimum will kick in.