On the night of this year’s Academy Awards, Olympic gold medalist and former reality TV show star Caitlyn Jenner got into a social media argument with Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California.
The argument started on twitter: In order to gain support for her candidacy in the likely recall election against Governor Gavin Newsom, Jenner criticized the governor for allowing prosecutors to “release dangerous criminals back onto our streets.”
The Twitter war stole some of the spotlight from the Oscars and went viral. Alex Mohajer, a political commentator, retweeted Jenner’s review with the comment: “This is your reminder that Caitlyn Jenner literally killed someone on the street 6 years ago and was released by a district attorney.”
Mohajer also posted the claim on Facebook, where it has been shared over a thousand times.
Facebook marked that post as part of its efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its newsfeed. (Read more about PolitiFact California partnership with Facebook and a previous PolitiFact Fact check by Caitlyn Jenner in 2017.) Facebook also flagged a similar one post just a few days earlier.
We decided to take a look.
In 2015, Jenner drove an SUV on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu that was towing an ATV. She finished a Lexus and pushed it into the oncoming traffic. Kim Howe, the driver of the Lexus, was then hit by a Hummer driving in the opposite direction. Jenner moved on and struck another vehicle, a Prius, the driver of which sustained minor injuries. But Howe was killed on impact.
Jenner apologized for the event and called it a terrible accident. She settled with Howe’s family and Jessica Steindorff, the driver of the Prius, for an undisclosed amount, and with the family in the Hummer for $ 800,000.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has been investigating the accident and investigating the possibility of vehicle manslaughter. The investigation sparked controversy for Jenner at the time, as the wrongdoing charge might have put her behind bars for at least a year. At that point, she had just announced her gender change.
At the end of the investigation, the DA office did not indict a lack of evidence. To prove vehicle manslaughter, a person must have a certain level of common negligence. In Jenner’s case, they were empty. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department recommended indicting her, but it wasn’t their final decision.
In addition to a lack of evidence, prosecutors did report Jenner said, releasing the gas pedal and applying the brakes a few seconds late before she hit Howe. The report states that she did not violate any traffic rules other than driving below the speed limit. Therefore, they refused to charge her with vehicle manslaughter.
Experts say it is not easy to incriminate someone for the crime. The burden of proof lies solely with the public prosecutor. California law requires prosecutors to prove that the person who caused the death drove negligently and violated traffic rules.
“The negligence goes hand in hand with the traffic offense,” said John McCurley, criminal defense attorney and appeals law specialist. Anything that can interfere with your safe driving – like texting, putting on makeup, or staring out the window – is considered common negligence.
McCurley said these cases usually only affect individual drivers. “The only person who really has the story is you and you don’t have to testify,” McCurley said. “I think that’s a big problem with proving these cases.”
And if the prosecutor can’t produce evidence, he can’t bring charges. “I can’t say it was her fault. So again we have no facts, ”said McCurley.
When prosecutors conduct investigations, they are not lacking in expertise. “You’re not skipping resources,” said Nabiel Ahmed, a criminal defense attorney in the Oakland Bay Area.
Ahmed depicted a manslaughter case in which his client was drunk and drove over the speed limit. The driver didn’t apply the brakes and crashed into a parked car. You have been convicted.
“Caitlyn’s case was different [from] think she put the brakes on and was driving below the speed limit so those were two critical differentiators, ”said Ahmed. The investigation also found that Jenner was sober at the time of the accident.
Did California remember election candidate Caitlyn Jenner, who killed someone on the street and was released by a prosecutor?
It is true that the prosecutor did not bring any charges against Jenner. The decision came after an investigation into which the prosecutor’s office said there was a lack of evidence to charge her with manslaughter and reckless driving. The prosecutor did not release Jenner.
The posts on social media suggest that Jenner was released by a prosecutor for the murder of someone. Jenner was never charged or convicted in the case, however.
We judge this claim to be largely false.
Twitter postApril 25, 2021
Facebook postApril 25, 2021
Facebook postApril 26, 2021
JUSTIA, CALCRIM No. 593. Offense vehicle manslaughter
The Associated Press, Officially: The video shows Jenner’s rear car in a fatal wreck, February 18, 2015
CNN, Caitlyn Jenner is not charged with a fatal four car accident, September 30, 2015
People Magazine, Caitlyn Jenner pays $ 800,000 to settle a fatal car accident in 2015, January 26, 2018
Youtube Video, Local 12 News, Feb. 20, 2015
CNN, Second fatal wreck lawsuit filed with Caitlyn Jenner, June 9, 2015
Youtube Video, Entertainment Tonight, September 9, 2015
Nabiel Ahmed, defense attorney, interview, April 30, 2021
John McCurley, criminal defense attorney and appeals law specialist, interviewed April 30, 2021