Suspect in deadly police pursuit has past criminal record

By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: April 21, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.

Smith transferred to Riverside Regional Jail after release from hospital

DINWIDDIE – The man accused of leading police on a pursuit across two counties that ended in a deadly crash in neighboring Sussex County has had prior incidents with law enforcement.

On April 3, 29-year-old Toriando B. Smith of Petersburg was charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter, one felony count of eluding police and driving on a revoked license after a police pursuit that started in Dinwiddie County ended in Sussex when he crashed into a car carrying a young woman and two children, killing a five-year-old girl and seriously injuring an eight-year-old boy and 30-year-old Latonya Chandler of Stony Creek.

The incident began as a traffic stop in Dinwiddie County after a 2018 Chevrolet Cruze driven by Smith was observed going nearly 15 mph over the posted 25 mph speed limit along Halligan Park Road just after 8 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities said a Virginia State Police trooper activated his lights and initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle. As the trooper walked toward the vehicle on foot, Smith immediately sped away.

That pursuit made its way along Route 40 in Dinwiddie before crossing over into Sussex County, where the trooper eventually lost sight of the suspect vehicle, which was traveling at speeds in excess of 100 mph. As the trooper conducted a search for the suspect, he came upon a traffic crash along Concord Sappony Road.

Virginia State Police’s investigation has revealed that Smith, driving the Cruze had struck a 2018 Chevrolet Impala at a bend in the road head-on. That impact caused the Cruze to catch fire.

The trooper was able to remove Smith from the burning vehicle, who received “serious, but non-life threatening” and sent to VCU Medical Center in Richmond for treatment before being released early last week, according to hospital officials. Records show Smith is currently being held at Riverside Regional Jail in Prince George County.

According to Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller, they remain in active discussions with the commonwealth’s attorney on the matter of additional charges against Smith but, as of this report, no additional charges have been filed.

Even before this month’s offenses, court records show Smith has had previous encounters with law enforcement prior to last week’s deadly pursuit that claimed the life of a child.

According to Virginia’s online court records database, a bench warrant was issued for Smith’s arrest in Sussex County after he did not appear in court in connection with a 2016 misdemeanor assault and battery charge. That bench warrant was issued against Smith in February of 2017.

Prior to that, Smith pled guilty to felony charges of carrying a concealed weapon in Petersburg Circuit Court in May of 2016. That plea resulted in Smith receiving a two-year jail sentence, all of which was suspended and a $513 fine. He was also convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession in the city’s general district court, where he received a $384 fine.

Smith’s rap sheet in Petersburg continued to grow as, in March of 2017, Smith was arrested in connection with another felony concealed weapons violation. According to court records, the case was set for trial, with a show cause hearing set for March of 2018. 

A capias for Smith’s arrest was filed after that hearing, which, following last week’s deadly crash, the 29-year-old was placed under arrest, according to the city’s court documents, a year after that capias was filed.

With his outstanding charges in Petersburg and Sussex, Sussex County Sheriff Ernest Giles said Smith will be incarcerated in whatever jurisdiction where the most severe charges against Smith are being levied. Records show Smith is currently being held at Riverside Regional Jail, which Petersburg is one of seven member localities.

While Virginia State Police confirmed Smith will face felony involuntary manslaughter and eluding police charges, there is no timetable for when Smith will appear in Sussex County Court in connection with this month’s deadly crash.

Additionally, his outstanding felony concealed weapons charge in Petersburg was scheduled for review on April 11 in Petersburg Circuit Court. Court records state Smith either needs an attorney or is in the process of changing attorneys, with a show cause hearing set in the city’s court for April 18 as of this report’s publication.

According to state law, any person who “unintentionally causes the death of another person” may be found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, which carries a maximum of ten years behind bars and a $2,500 fine. If a court finds that a suspect’s behavior shows “a reckless disregard for human life,” that maximum penalty can be raised to 20 years. 

Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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