Venus Williams had a green light to enter the intersection where her fatal June collision with an elderly couple occurred, new video released Friday revealed, as her lawyer said she could be cleared.
The newly discovered footage of the June 9 crash shows Williams being T-boned at speed by the elderly couple. It was released by police who said she the case remained under investigation.
From The Daily Mail
Their statement did not clear her or change the previous conclusion that she was to blame.
It will be seized on by her legal team, who say the finding she is to blame can be ‘updated’.
‘Based on the evidence obtained in the ongoing investigation, it has been determined the vehicle driven by Venus Williams lawfully entered the intersection on a circular green traffic signal,’ Major Paul Rogers of the PBGPD said in a statement.
There had been no suggestion Venus entered the junction illegally.
A police report into the fatal June 9 collision stated that Williams was at fault because she turned left into the path of the car in which Jerome Barson, 78, was a passenger.
But at a court hearing to thrash out how the two sides will share evidence extracted from the two mangled vehicles, her lawyer Malcolm Cunningham suggested cops could change their tune – and sensationally clear the tennis superstar.
‘That’s not a complete final report – it can be updated,’ Cunningham told reporters outside a courthouse in Palm Beach County, Florida. Williams was not present as she is playing at Wimbledon.
‘Venus Williams entered that intersection on a green light, her progress was impeded and she had the right by state law to get through the intersection,’ he added.
The video would appear to support that, although police made clear that the matter was still ‘under investigation’.
And Michael Steinger, the lawyer for the Barons, Michael Steinger, said it supported their position.
‘The video released by the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department continues to support the fact that Ms. Williams remained in the intersection at a red light, violating the Barson’s right of way,’ Steinger said in a statement.
‘There is nothing that disputes Ms. Williams’ was in the intersection on a red light, and the witnesses clearly confirm the Barsons’ had a green light and lawfully entered the intersection.’
The video was released at the same time as a court hearing over the electronic records from the tennis star’s car.
The download of the ‘EDR’, or so-called blackbox data, from Williams’ Toyota Sequoia is now expected to begin at a Florida tow yard as early as next Wednesday.
It should show her speed at the time of the collision – and whether or not she sped up in the moments before to beat a red light.
The celebrated athlete’s lawyers wanted to keep the results to themselves for up to seven days but a Palm Beach County judge on Friday ordered them to hand it over within 72 hours.
Venus, 37, won an emergency court order earlier this week preventing the Barson family from examining her car after their lawyers provided her team with less than 24 hours’ notice.
She said she feared critical evidence could be lost unintentionally if the process was bungled and demanded the protective order until the court established a formal procedure for collecting evidence.
The two sides met Friday to thrash out a full order agreeing to have the technical examinations complete by August 2.
Both Williams’s Toyota Sequoia SUV and Barson’s Hyundai Accent are being stored at Kauffs Transportation Systems in West Palm Beach.
Police have already downloaded and circulated data from the Barson’s car but when they tried to extract the information from the SUV the system failed. Experts will now remove panels to gain access to an alternate port.
Patrick Dahl, for Williams, told the hearing that the athletes team of tech experts wanted seven days to ‘save, preserve and make copies’ of the data. However Ian Duncan, representing the Barson family, scoffed at their suggestion this could take a week.
‘Typically the way this is done in every EDR download I’ve ever been present at, one expert is standing there and the other experts has his computer hooked up,’ he said.
‘The download comes up, it’s saved on the computer right there, it’s saved as a PDF document.
‘And they take out thumb drives, stick them in the USB drive of the computer and download it to the thumb drive and hand it to the other expert.’
Judge Cymonie S. Rowe subsequently set the deadline for the ‘exchange’ at 72 hours.
Barson’s wife Linda was driving the car which t-boned Williams at an intersection in Palm Beach Gardens on June 9.
Her husband was taken to the hospital with internal bleeding and organ damage but died two weeks later – on his wife’s 68th birthday.
A police report said Williams was to blame for the crash because she turned left into the Barson’s path and they had the legal right of way.
Williams insists her signal was green when she turned despite witnesses suggesting she ran a red light.
Her legal team dismissed suggestions today they were ‘stalling’ over handing over potentially vital evidence to Barson’s family.
‘That statement does not merit a response,’ Cunningham told reporters. Venus, meanwhile, eased past her round of 32 opponent, Naomi Osaka in straight sets before Friday’s hearing.
The five-time Wimbledon champion has yet to file her response to the wrongful death suit that was filed on June 30.
‘She is devastated by it, she thinks about it a lot. It’s an unfortunate accident,’ said Cunningham, adding that he hoped the accident would not ‘distract’ the star from competing.
Venus broke down in tears at a press conference Monday when she was asked about the fatal incident for the first time.
‘There are really no words to describe, like, how devastating and — yeah I’m completely speechless. It’s just yeah, I mean, I’m just…’ she said.
Williams left the room before composing herself and returning to answer a few more questions. ‘I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. That’s all I can say about it. That’s what I’ve learned,’ she added.
The accident remains under investigation and Williams has not been charged. Police say there was no evidence she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or that she was distracted by a phone.
However their report stated that the tennis player was at fault for blocking the right of way of the other vehicle.
Gary Iscoe, an attorney representing the Barson family, said after Friday’s hearing that they were satisfied Williams realized the ‘gravity’ of the situation.
Nonetheless he said the retiree’s death had taken a ‘devastating toll’ on his widow and that they looked forward to gaining closure by holding Venus accountable.
‘We are very pleased that the evidence will be preserved and examined and we are confident that the evidence will show Miss Williams was at fault,’ he said.