ST. LOUIS — As a 17-year-old Tennessee girl remains in a St. Louis hospital after a crash, the city's top prosecutor is facing political backlash for her office's response to the incident and the suspect's previous cases.
As of Wednesday evening, the backlash now includes Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey demanding she resign by noon on Thursday or face immediate removal proceedings from his office.
Janae Edmondson and her family were walking back to their hotel in downtown St. Louis Saturday when 21-year-old Daniel Riley sped down St. Charles street, failed to brake, hit several cars and pinned Edmondson. Edmondson was rushed to the hospital for treatment, but her legs had to be amputated.
In the days following the crash, the I-Team learned Riley was out on bond awaiting trial for a 2020 armed robbery at the time of the crash. The I-Team also learned he had violated the terms of his bond at least 50 times, but the circuit attorney's office did not ask for his bond to be revoked.
In response to the ongoing coverage of the case, Gardner's office released the following statement Tuesday night:
“A young girl’s life was tragically changed because of the inexcusable behavior of a young man. Our hearts go out to the victim and her family for this unspeakable tragedy that will undoubtedly have a lasting impact not only on her, but her family and loved ones. It’s unfortunate that there are those who chose to twist the facts to take advantage of this situation for their own selfish motives. This is not the time for finger pointing, it’s time to support this family and ensure that justice is served.”
Gardner's office released an additional statement Wednesday night that sent sympathies to the victim and her family before saying a judge denied her office's requests to keep the crash suspect behind bars.
That statement and the response overall from Gardern's office have elected officials and local leaders from both sides of the aisle responding. Many have called the case emblematic of the dysfunction in Gardner's office and some state and local leaders have also called for her resignation.
Missouri Governor Mike Parson (R)
Missouri Governor Mike Parson spoke on the controversy following an unrelated news conference Thursday.
"I do think she should resign," Parson said.
He said he and others believe there was a pattern of failures that corresponded with the violent crime in St. Louis city.
"Look, we are public servants. We're elected officials. All of us are. I am. They are. And if you say you're going to do your job and take an oath to that, you should be doing that very thing," he said.
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey (R)
Attorney General Andrew Bailey released the following statement:
In an effort to protect the people of St. Louis, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey is demanding the resignation of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner by noon on February 23, or face immediate removal proceedings in the form of a writ of quo warranto brought by his office.
“As Attorney General, I want to protect the people of St. Louis, and that includes protecting victims of crime and finding justice for them,” said Attorney General Andrew Bailey. “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.”
On February 18, 2023, Janae Edmonson, a teenage athlete, was walking back to her hotel in downtown St. Louis after a volleyball tournament when she was run down by a speeding vehicle and lost both of her legs. One was severed, and the other maimed. Ms. Edmonson survived the crash due to her father’s quick action and emergency medical training, but both of her legs were amputated.
The driver of the speeding vehicle, Daniel Riley, should never have been in that car. He is a dangerous gunman who should have been in jail. In 2020, the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office charged Riley with First Degree Robbery and Armed Criminal Action for stealing a firearm from a victim at gunpoint. The Circuit Attorney dismissed and refiled that case on July 18, 2022, but not before Riley - who was out on bond - earned 54 separate violations for failing to comply with the pre-trial bond conditions. After the Circuit Attorney refiled the case, Riley earned 50 more violations. The Circuit Attorney never filed a motion to revoke Riley’s bond.
This is the latest in a long pattern of brazen neglect. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney has a long history of failure to prosecute violent crime, with a backlog of at least 3,000 cases.
“It is time for the Circuit Attorney to go and for the rule of law and justice to prevail,” said Attorney General Bailey.
Mayor Tishaura Jones (D)
"Take some accountability," Jones said at an improvised press availability Wednesday. "Accountability isn't weak. Accountability isn't pointing fingers. Accountability is when something goes wrong, you take accountability, say 'This is my mess up,' and, 'How can we work together to fix it?'"
You can watch the full press conference below:
She later tweeted more statements:
READ: Kim Gardner should 'do some soul searching,' decide if she wants to remain circuit attorney, St. Louis mayor says
Congresswoman Cori Bush (D)
Congresswoman Cori Bush released the following statement Friday afternoon:
“I am heartbroken by the horrific and reckless violence that gravely injured Janae Edmondson. I extend my deepest sympathies to her and her family as they navigate the difficult road ahead. No child should ever have to endure the trauma and harm that Janae has had to endure these last few days. She is a survivor, but she shouldn’t have to be. She should be in school, spending time with her family and friends, and continuing to excel in the sports she loves. But instead she is in a hospital bed. Janae, her family and her loved ones have every right to be angry and they deserve full accountability — as does our entire community. My office has reached out to a representative of the Edmondson family directly, and I stand ready to do everything in my power to support them as they love on and care for Janae during this difficult time.
“Accountability is layered, and in order to obtain the full accountability this situation rightfully demands, each layer must be addressed. This isn’t about any one prosecutor or judge. The harm that Janae Edmondson has endured is emblematic of a system-wide failure. There were decisions all across our criminal legal system that contributed to this tragedy—and our community deserves answers. There must be transparency and more stringent oversight to determine every person, action, and process that led up to this horrible incident. And all parties responsible for Janae Edmondson’s injuries must be held accountable.
“It is clear that our city’s institutions must work more closely together to advance community safety policies that would have prevented the horrific violence that Janae Edmondson has faced. We cannot allow this tragedy to be weaponized by reactionary forces whose sole mission is to expand brutal and arbitrary carceral strategies that make us less safe. And we must reject disingenuous, misogynistic, and racist calls by state officials to circumvent the will of St. Louisans who have entrusted democratically elected local officials to oversee and implement public safety. Every person harmed by violence reflects a moral and policy failure that demands our collective responsibility.
“We must also recognize that what happened to Janae Edmondson is not an anomaly, and genuine accountability requires a sustained commitment to adopting a holistic public safety approach, including re-envisioning pedestrian safety and traffic enforcement. This means urgently addressing the traffic violence that regularly occurs on our streets by implementing an evidence-based, preventative traffic and pedestrian safety plan, encompassing ideas long championed by lawmakers and advocates alike.
“As we continue to keep Janae and the entire Edmondson family in our thoughts, know this: my team and I will continue to work with local leaders on evidence-based strategies that prevent violence and harm in our community, because the safety and well-being of Missouri’s First District is a matter of paramount importance.”
St. Louis NAACP
The St. Louis NAACP issued a letter of support for Garnder Thursday afternoon.
"The calls for the resignation of Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner are unwarranted by the Missouri Attorney General and the President Pro Tem of the Missouri Senate. Both offices are being subjected to conjecture and manipulation which has no place in how either office conducts its business. I have provided both offices with a set of facts that at least provides a clearer picture of the adjudication of Mr. Daniel Riley and the manipulation of some members of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department."
Adolphus M. Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP shares the timeline of events in Riley's case from Gardner's team. The letter accuses the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department of dumping a large number of cases on the Circuit Attorney's office to build a narrative.
"The continual efforts to remove Circuit Attorney Gardner from office have consistently relied on conjecture and a manipulation of the facts," the letter continued. "And it appears you both have been subjected to the proverbial catfish; being catfished is not a basis for the removal of our Circuit Attorney."
"We are opposed to the disenfranchisement of the voters of the City of St. Louis, more specifically the African American voters in support of the CAO’s criminal justice reforms."
The full statement and timelines provided by the St. Louis NAACP is available here.
In addition, the president said in the statement that 19th District Missouri State Senator Caleb Rowden and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey have been subjected to the "proverbial catfish" -- being catfished is not a basis for the removal of our circuit attorney.
St. Louis Police Officers' Association
The police union issued an emailed statement Thursday afternoon:
"The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association is saddened by the tragic and horrific situation involving a young visitor to our city. The fact that the entire situation could have and should have been avoided only makes matters worse. We are sending our thoughts and prayers to Janae Edmondson and her entire family. Unfortunately, Janae isn’t the first victim who has been affected by Kim Gardner’s failures as Circuit Attorney, but hopefully she will be the last.
"We want to thank Attorney General Andrew Bailey for having the courage to stand up to Kim Gardner and finally take her to task for years of incompetence. Attorney General Bailey has proven that he is willing to advocate for victims and is taking the crime crisis in St. Louis seriously. We commend him for his actions and fully support this decision.
"While this step to remove Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner from office is a significant move to address the crime problem in St. Louis, we still believe stabilizing the Police Department through the return to State Control is an essential piece to making St. Louis safe."
Greater St. Louis Inc.
“The events that harmed Janae Edmonson were tragic, and first and foremost, our thoughts are with her and her family. The criminal justice system must fully investigate and prosecute this crime and hold the perpetrator accountable.
“This crime was as preventable as it is tragic. While this tragedy may serve as a turning point in the efforts to strengthen public safety, it only highlights the lingering issues that have gone unaddressed for far too long. We need immediate action. These issues are not new, and solving them requires all of us stepping up and coming together as one metro to develop a regional strategy to reduce crime and strengthen public safety. The ongoing failures of the Circuit Attorney’s office – with regard to the individual involved in this case as well as a litany of other cases that have not been brought to justice – are unforgiveable.”
Alderman Mike Gras (D)
Alderwoman Anne Schweitzer (D)
St. Louis Alderman Joe Vollmer (D)
"I can't see how she can defend herself," Alderman Joe Vollmer (D-Ward 10) said of Gardner. "This is a calamity. If she cared about the city of St. Louis, she would resign. There's no ownership. I can't believe she's in office, but she's been elected."
Alderman Shane Cohn (D)
Alderman Tom Oldenburg (D)
Alderwoman Cara Spencer (D)
Missouri Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R)
Missouri House Speaker Dean Plocher (R)
“The recent events concerning Janae Edmondson illustrate the risk people from my community, this state and those traveling to St. Louis from anywhere in the country face. Today I call for Kim Gardner’s immediate resignation. For far too long her dereliction of duty has resulted in horrible tragedies and a growing list of innocent victims who have seen their lives devastated. Rather than accept responsibility for her actions, she has deflected warranted criticism and refused help from state resources. Her willful neglect of duty has effectively resulted in her abdicating the duties of her office. This must end immediately. I stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are outraged at her inactions and recognize the safety of our communities must come first. I will continue to advocate for the Senate to pass HB301 to bring accountability, restore integrity, preserve the rule of law, and deliver justice to victims, including Janae Edmondson and her family.”
Missouri Rep. Rasheen Aldridge (D)
Missouri Rep. Raychel Proudie (D)
The People's Plan Coalition
This moment calls us all to consider our collective responsibility to foster an environment of safety, stability, and wellness for all residents and visitors of St. Louis. Building such an environment will require a holistic approach that recognizes the interconnectedness of all of the systems and institutions that exist in St. Louis. For more than two years, the People’s Plan has offered proposals ranging from expansion and innovation in public transportation to community-driven approaches to public safety, including traffic enforcement. Some more recent discussions in other spaces have focused on the importance of data-informed street redesign and traffic calming measures. These changes are possible, and they are urgent.
Instead of taking on this critical work, the public dialogue this week has focused singularly on St. Louis’ elected Circuit Attorney for her failure to act more swiftly in response to alleged GPS monitoring violations by the driver who has now been charged with recklessly causing the traumatic crash. There is no doubt that some members of the People’s Plan coalition have been among the most consistent critics of the Circuit Attorney’s Office on issues including transparency, pretrial practices, and handling of cases involving the death penalty. However, the dominant narrative surrounding the Circuit Attorney’s responsibility for GPS monitoring, in this case and others, is factually wrong, analytically flawed, and dangerous as a matter of public policy.