Investigation: Cop cleared in woman’s death
A special prosecutor finds that Albemarle police Sergeant Pamela Greenwood did not violate any laws in the death of pedestrian Jesus Tolentino Dominguez two months ago. She will not face criminal charges.
Fluvanna Commonwealth's Attorney Jeff Haislip, left, oversaw the investigation that cleared Greenwood, who had been on administrative leave and just returned to work a week ago.
Greenwood was traveling north on Hydraulic Road in a police SUV at 9:50pm June 27 when she struck Dominguez about 50 feet past the intersection of Earlysville Road, Haislip said. Greenwood had slowed at the intersection and was going an estimated 30 to 33 mph when Dominguez, who had already crossed three lanes coming from the Rock Store, stepped into her path.
The vehicle swerved to the right and hit Dominguez with the driver's side of the car and side mirror. "Her injuries were significant, with numerous lacerations to the liver and numerous broken bones," Haislip said at a press conference at the Albemarle County police department.
He found that Greenwood was not on a cell phone or radio, but that Dominguez was, and that distraction was a factor in the accident. Witnesses said Dominguez, 62, had been on the phone when she walked over to the Rock Store, and was still talking when she crossed back over.
"She was talking on the cell phone held to her right ear, which obstructed her view," said Haislip.
Another contributing factor was that Dominguez was wearing black clothing and was not crossing at the intersection, Haislip reported.
After the accident, Greenwood called for assistance and attempted first aid. The camera in the police car comes on only when the blue lights are activated, and it captured Greenwood reporting the accident but not the incident itself.
Dominguez was a native of El Salvador, and it took police a half day to figure out who she was. "We couldn't positively identify her from her [passport] photo because of her injuries and swelling," said Trooper Kevin Frazier with the Virginia State Police. Once she was identified from fingerprints, the El Salvadoran embassy was notified, and police contacted her family.
Local churches raised $2,800 to send Dominguez's body back to El Salvador. Because Albemarle was not found at fault, paying to send her remains home "would not be an appropriate use of public funds," said police Chief John Miller. He said he has requested donations from a police foundation.