FAU President's Collision With Student: Witnesses Dispute Police Report

Categories: Fire Ant
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The latest developments in the ongoing fiasco that is the FAU/GEO Group naming rights deal have opened broad new vistas of potential embarrassment for the university and its president, Mary Jane Saunders -- depending on whom you believe.

See also:
-Students Claim FAU President Saunders Hit Student Protester With Car
-FAU Students Vow to Keep Fighting


After a faculty meeting on the school's Jupiter campus Friday, Saunders was confronted by a group of about 20 students miffed by her refusal to discuss the school's sale of naming rights to its athletics field to the notorious private prison company. As she drove away, Saunders struck and injured one of the students. The injury was slight, but the occasion reverberates.

britni hiatt wound photo.jpg
Photo courtesy Britni Hiatt
FAU police say the injured student, Britni Hiatt, caused the collision. She and student witnesses say otherwise.
In the synopsis of the FAU police report, Lt. Tracey Merritt states that Hiatt "intentionally stood near a vehicle that was leaving a parking space, which resulted in her being brushed by the right side mirror." In her narrative, Merritt states that protestors "refused to follow my verbal commands" and "were deliberately trying to get the vehicle to stop by intentionally standing in close proximity, which put themselves at risk."

According to Merritt, as Saunders began to drive away, Hiatt "had just been told to move away from being in front of [Saunders's] vehicle" and that as the vehicle began to move forward Hiatt "appeared to be only inches from the vehicle's right front quarter panel," and "stayed in the same place."  According to Merritt, Hiatt "did not fall," "was not even pushed down from the vehicle's momentum," and "just moved quickly away" when the car's right side view mirror "touched/struck" her.

Hiatt was taken by police to a nearby building where she was photographed and gave a sworn statement. At Jupiter Medical Center, she was examined and diagnosed, she told New Times, with a "blunt injury." "It was bruise the size of an orange," she said.

Hiatt said the police account was "incomplete."

"I had moved in response to the police orders," she said. "I had been at the side of the car and was moving away as she was backing up. As she was moving forward, she accelerated, went the wrong way down a one-way street, and didn't pause or stop. If she hadn't accelerated so quickly, she wouldn't have hit me."

Hiatt described her treatment by police as "victim blaming," saying they "seemed generally aggravated/annoyed to deal with me" and that she "had to insist that I write my sworn statement."

Police have referred all questions about the collision to FAU's press office, which made the police report public Saturday. The press office refused to release Hiatt's statement, however, saying they "cannot provide [it] until investigation is closed."

As of this morning, the school's press office would not say whether Saunders gave a statement to police, nor would it provide the sworn statements of other witnesses, say if there is video of the incident, or provide copies of photos referred to in the police report.

Other witnesses, however, provided copies of their statements to New Times, and they lend support to Hiatt's version of events.

In a statement to Officer Derrick Paul, student Catherine A, who asked not to be identified at this time, wrote that as Saunders backed her car up:
"...students were still by the sides of the car, still asking her to talk with us, still asking her to hear us. She sped off and her view mirror on the passenger side hit Britni Hiatt's body. Britni keeled over in pain. Saunders sped/drove in the wrong direction out of the parking lot and in the process sped through two stop signs. She did not stop her car to see if she had injured a student. No officer tried to stop her (Saunders) either."
In a second statement to Officer Derrick Paul, a student named Leslie (last name blacked out) wrote:
"At no point was anyone touching [Saunders's] car that I know of. Then, the President turned and accelerated forward simultaneously, hitting Britni with her passenger side mirror. Britni had been in the parking lot to the right of the car and continued to move out of the way as Saunders turned. The audible acceleration and simultaneous turn was something I didn't anticipate. After the thud of impact, Britni bent over and guarded her side with her hands. The University President proceeded to exit the parking lot, going the wrong way around the roundabout and not stopping or returning to see if everything was alright."
The FAU Police report references three sections of Florida criminal code: 316.027 - Traffic crash pedestrian with injuries, 316.072(3) - Disobey Police Officer, and 316.130 (8) - Pedestrian shall not leave curb or saftey[sic] into path.

Presumably relying on 316.027, some people have called for Saunders to be charged with fleeing the scene of an accident. The statute reads:
The driver of any vehicle involved in a crash occurring on public or private property that results in injury of any person must immediately stop the vehicle at the scene of the crash, or as close thereto as possible, and must remain at the scene of the crash until he or she has fulfilled the requirements of s. 316.062.
The police report makes no mention of 316.062 - Duty to give information and render aid.

Hiatt told New Times she has not, to the best of her knowledge, been charged with any crime. She also said she has not retained counsel and has no plans to file a personal claim. She said she had been advised to contact the State Attorney but has "no formal plans to do so."

Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal bite -- covers Palm Beach County. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.



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28 comments
ChazStevensGenius
ChazStevensGenius

Look. I'l admit. Asking Britani for pictures was a wrong idea.  

On second glance, she's not really a looker and a bit, shall we say, underequipped for my taste.

So yes, let's skip her pictures, and spend our time ogling someone better looking.

ID10t
ID10t

if she was a LEO, it would have been a life threatening event, and would have shot the driver.



ChazStevensGenius
ChazStevensGenius

FireAnt;

Now this is the type of reporting your readers (cough cough me) will enjoy.

College dames stripping!

Any more photos?

pulseoxpoppins
pulseoxpoppins

@ChazStevensGenius "Ladies, if you are going to do shit like say words and have ideas, the least you can do is make sure you are sufficiently fuckable to me. Thaxies! --xoxo, Chaz" 

frequentflyer
frequentflyer

@ChazStevensGenius 

What was the sexiest part for you? The part where she was knocked over? Or the part when she was treated like roadkill on the floor as the president drove away? Or the part when the police blamed her because she was obviously "asking" to be physically hurt? Or the part where she's in pain?

Oh--oh... wait... none of that is sexy. It's a hit and run. It's a serious crime. And your treatment of the story is mindless, thick, and vulgar.


"Apparently, you're new around here and not familiar with how we operate."

How adorable. Sad, dense lil' troll thinks he has a little corner of the interwebs all to himself! You heard 'em ladies, he's the boss around here and he makes the rules! D'aw. Would the king of the castle like a lollipop?


What can be said of a person who "will enjoy" images of bruised women in pain? What can be said of someone whose humanity and sense of empathy is so far gone that they see a woman's bruised body in the context of a crime and sexualize her?


Disgusting. Hope the women in your life eventually recognize your "humor" is not worth the degradation of their gender. 


A simple apology could go a long way. You could still show that you are a person of decency. That is of course, unless you decide that sexualizing women in pain for a laugh is not a big deal.


jinjirrie
jinjirrie

@ChazStevensGenius this is an inappropriate comment which you have made. you have sexualised an image of the result of violence, and then cast prurient aspersions upon the nature of the readership. Please grow up, and learn some empathy with others.

pulseoxpoppins
pulseoxpoppins

@ChazStevensGeniusChaz, it's not okay to sexualize women without their consent, and it is especially not okay to sexualize a victim seeking justice for abuse against them. You owe Britni an apology.

ChazStevensGenius
ChazStevensGenius

@frequentflyer @ChazStevensGenius Actually, I was the New Times 2010 Activist of the Year.

My work has resulted in three elected officials being removed from office and sent to jail.

I've been on the front page of the Miami Herald, Washington Post, and Roll Call.

I've made a difference.

Also, I am not stupid enough to play frogger with a car.

emma.rosenthal
emma.rosenthal

@fire.ant @ChazStevensGenius he's only incorrigible if you give him air.  let him spew his hate speech elsewhere. the "boys will be boys" crap is old and tired. comments like this should be deleted and have no place in articulate and responsible discourse. 

frequentflyer
frequentflyer

@pulseoxpoppins @frequentflyer  

Thank YOU for calling this crap out earlier than I did. 


Srsly. OH PARDON ME. So sorry sir, I wasn't aware you got a newspaper award and "made a difference." Please sir, help yourself to all the misogyny you'd like! EVERYONE CHILL. He got an award. He's allowed to sexualize women in pain now. Glad we got that cleared up.

pulseoxpoppins
pulseoxpoppins

@frequentflyer THANK YOU for your reasoned and comprehensive posts to this thread. I have nothing to add that you haven't already said here. I just wanted to support what you wrote!


frequentflyer
frequentflyer

@ChazStevensGenius @frequentflyer  

Respect for women and sensitivity to context "bores" the New Times "Activist of the Year." You heard it here first.

 What a long way we've to go, even amongst our own.  How sad.

FYI: just because you're the misogynistic "New Times Activist of the Year" doesn't stop you from being a sad troll.

Aaaaaaaand, you could have just apologized. Just putting that out there.

frequentflyer
frequentflyer

@ChazStevensGenius @frequentflyer  

Then you should know better. How disappointing from someone who claims to have "made a difference" that they have not learned that sexualizing women without their consent flies in the face of ALL social justice. 

Get it together and apologize already.

 

pulseoxpoppins
pulseoxpoppins

I know how respect operates, and sexualizing photographs of unwilling brutalized women is outrageously disrespectful. Shame on you.


fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@pulseoxpoppins @fire.ant Chaz's "operate" comment shows some flair for language.
As for the criticisms of Chaz, I've liked some and replied in support of others, (including yours, though you may not recognize it). Is there some minimum quota of likes required by the central committee?

pulseoxpoppins
pulseoxpoppins

@fire.ant@pulseoxpoppinsSo, whats so likable about "Apparently, you're new around here and not familiar with how we operate"? Maybe a better question, what's so UNlikable about the 9 comments calling out his misogyny that you *didn't* support?

fire.ant
fire.ant topcommenter

@pulseoxpoppins @fire.ant 1) I liked one of Chaz's comments, and for reasons other than its content. He wants to play the jerk, and does so, at times, with a touch of wit. He knows better.
2) I don't control who comments here ("given him airtime") and wouldn't block Chaz if I could. It's not "my page" that needs disinfecting, it's Chaz's juvenile attitude, and that is not accomplished by sweeping it under the rug. There, it only festers.

pulseoxpoppins
pulseoxpoppins

@fire.ant You have no interest in disinfecting your page--you've liked and responded to his comments, and given him airtime on your press page. You can't flirt with the devil then pretend you are letting him hang. It's dishonest, and transparent. Why write articles about justice, and let the likes of Chaz drag ass across them?

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