Just last week Lowell, Massachusetts police were dispatched to Chase Street after a report that a twenty eight year old man was struck by a car. When they arrived they found the man bleeding from his head. Witnesses told the police that the vehicle appeared to deliberately drive close to the man with the intent to “playfully swerve at him”. These witnesses believed that the defendant knew the victim. Apparently the victim’s shoes got caught in the car’s tires and his head hit the pavement causing a noise that sounded like he cracked his skull. The driver of the car, Devone Debenedictis of Billerica, Massachusetts was arrested and charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. Charges are now pending in the Lowell District Court.
The article reporting this incident is replete with facts that suggest that this was an accident rather than a crime. The witnesses’ observation that the car was swerving “playfully” certainly does not support criminal activity. Similarly the fact that the victim fell as a result of his sandal getting caught in the car tire is indicative of an unfortunate accident. One of the elements of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon in Massachusetts is the intent to touch the victim. All accounts in this case reveal a lack of intent to touch or injury the victim. Such conduct is not criminal in the context of the crime charged. The outcome of this case should be interesting.