Crash Reconstruction Expert: James Fields Slowed Down Before Crash, Impact Was At 17 MPH

Chris Menahan
Dec. 06, 2018

Virginia State Trooper Clifford Thomas, a crash reconstruction expert, reportedly testified at James Alex Fields' murder trial in Charlottesville on Wednesday that Fields decelerated his car from 28 mph before the crash and was going 17 mph at the point of impact.

Buzzfeed reporter Blake Montgomery shared the news Wednesday on Twitter:

The Daily Progress reported it slightly differently:
[Virginia State Trooper Clifford Thomas, a crash reconstruction expert] said he calculated that Fields accelerated to a top speed of about 28 mph before decelerating to 23 mph later on Fourth Street. Based on the where Thomas placed the 23 mph marker and testimony from victims, Fields likely had already collided with counter-protesters by the point his speed dropped.

Data obtained from the Toyota Camry that Fields hit on Fourth Street showed it moved at 17.1 mph after it was struck. Thomas said it was unclear if that was the same speed Fields’ car had been going when it hit the Toyota.
CNN chose to omit that Thomas said Fields slowed down before the crash in their report on Wednesday night:
On Wednesday, Trooper Clifford Lee Thomas, a crash reconstructionist for the Virginia State Police, testified that Fields had accelerated to a maximum of 28 mph before crashing into a Toyota Camry.

The impact caused the Camry to go from zero to 17 mph in 150 milliseconds.
The Washington Post also neglected to report Thomas' conclusion that he slowed down before the crash:
Virginia State Trooper Clifford Thomas, a crash reconstruction expert, also testified Wednesday, saying Fields’s 2010 Dodge Challenger was traveling at 28 mph as he drove toward the counterprotesters at 4th and Water streets at this city’s downtown mall. It then crashed into a stationary Toyota Camry, causing that car to lunge forward at 17 mph, Clifford testified.
Fields told Detective Steven Young after the crash, "I'm so sorry, I didn't want to hurt people. But I thought they were attacking me."

"In a jailhouse phone call in March, Fields told his mother that he was merely defending himself from 'a violent mob of terrorists' the day of the killing," CNN reported Tuesday.

"The defense has said Fields acted not with criminal intent, but out of fear of the counterprotesters."

"An hour later, during his interrogation at the police department, Fields was told many people were injured and one person was killed," CNN reported.

"Fields started sobbing loudly and hyperventilated for a few minutes. Afterward, he invoked his right to remain silent."

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