Did Virginia Beach officials fully investigate homeless man’s death?
July 7, 5:28 PM Norfolk Crime Examiner Dave Gibson
A photo taken by a tourist visiting Virginia Beach, has surfaced, showing the man killed there last week, just minutes before his death. The image captured by Joan Veronie of Topeka, KS, tells a much different story of the circumstances leading up to the tragic accident, from the one told by city officials.
On June 28, a homeless man, Michael Knockett, 52, who was sleeping on the beach, was run over by a Virginia Beach city dump truck. The truck’s crew was emptying trash cans along the beach, as they do every morning.
The crew continued down the beach, until onlookers, who saw the man crushed, ran after them.
Immediately following the incident, Deputy City Manager Dave Hansen told the press that Knockett had been sleeping in a “depressed area,” and the truck driver could not see him.
Hansen’s statement gave the impression that Knockett was lying in a pit, or was lying flat on the ground, making it difficult for the driver to have seen him.
However, the photo, taken just seven minutes before the 911 call was placed, belies that position.
A few days after Knockett was killed, Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney Harvey Bryant announced that no charges would be filed in the case, saying that the driver simply did not see the man because she was looking at trash cans and her two-man crew walking alongside the truck.
*Reporter’s note: It is hard to imagine how someone driving a dump truck at two miles per hour (as stated by the city), and two workers walking with the truck, on a flat beach, somehow failed to see a man sitting in a chair, covered with a bright blue blanket in broad daylight.
Of course, I am not suggesting that it was an intentional act, but it is obvious that the driver could not have been taking the kind of care necessary when operating an 18,000 pound truck along a beach where thousands of people sit and sleep everyday.
A homeless woman living in Virginia Beach, Michele Frey, told the Virginian-Pilot: “I just can’t see how somebody in a dump truck could have come up on him. It could have been a kid. It could have been a tourist. This is a tourist city. There’s nothing strange about people lying on the beach 24/7.”
Of course, it was not a “kid,” or a “tourist” who was run over, but a 52-year-old homeless man, who according to friends and family, spent most of his time drinking and partying.
If it had been a middle-class, mother of two, on vacation, who was crushed under the weight of an 18,000 pound dump truck…Do you think charges would have been filed against the driver? Or that it would have been dismissed so quickly, not only by city officials, but by the public as well?