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Judge Rules Against American Couple Who Killed British Teenager, Claimed Diplomatic Immunity

— March 4, 2021

Anne Sacoolas and her husband, Jonathon, allegedly fled the United Kingdom after killing 19-year old Harry Dunn.

A federal judge has ruled against an American couple who killed a British teenager in a car crash, then fled the United Kingdom through diplomatic immunity.

According to The Associated Press, Anne Sacoolas has been stationed in central England with her husband, Jonathon. In August of 2019, Anne Sacoolas—while driving on the wrong side of the road—struck and killed 19-year old Harry Dunn.

While Sacoolas admitted responsibility in the crash, the United States government invoked diplomatic immunity on her behalf, allowing her to leave the country even as British prosecutors were preparing a case against her.

Dunn’s family, notes The Associated Press, filed a lawsuit against Sacoolas in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

In it, the Dunn family alleges that, not only did Sacoolas kill Harry Dunn, but that she failed to call the police or summon an ambulance immediately afterward.

Furthermore, Sacoolas made an apparently pre-meditated decision to flee the United Kingdom after pledging to cooperate with British authorities in their investigation. After Sacoolas returned to her home in northern Virginia, the Untied States government refused numerous requests to extradite her to face criminal charges.

Since Sacoolas refused to cooperate with British authorities, and refused to return to the United Kingdom to face criminal charges, the Dunn family says they were left with no option but to file a civil complaint in U.S. court.

Image via Maxpixel. (CCA-BY-0.0)/public domain

Attorneys for Anne and Jonathon Sacoolas have charged that the lawsuit has been improperly filed, and that it has no place in front of an American judge.

Last month, Virginia-based U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III struck down an argument by the Sacoolas’ lawyers that the case should be dismissed in the United States and heard instead in the United Kingdom. Noting a glaringly obvious flaw in the Sacalooses’ argument, Ellis said any case would likely require Anne to provide testimony—something she would not be able to do if a trial were held in the U.K.

Then, on Wednesday, Ellis rejected another motion to dismiss the suit—one that inspected and challenged the applicability of British law in American courts.

The Associated Press observes that Sacoolas’ lawyers had tried to issue a “notice of correction,” in which they contended that Sacoolas had not sought to evade British law, nor had she refused to procure emergency care for Dunn. Her attorneys said that Sacoolas had, in fact, flagged down another driver, who in turn called an ambulance; they also say that Sacoolas notified a nearby Air Force base of the accident, which provided the requisite medical services.

Sacoolas’ defense also maintained that the evacuation of diplomats and other government personnel facing charges in foreign countries is part of standard operating procedures.

However, the notice of correction garnered a sharp rebuke from Ellis, who appeared to feel the petition was nothing other than a publicity stunt meant to save face for Sacoolas.

“You can make your case to the public if you wish but you can’t change my order by filing a notice of correction,” he said. “I don’t think anything I said is incorrect.”

With Ellis’s ruling now in place, the case can move to discovery.


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