Bellevue Police say that Seahawks fullback Derek Coleman admitted in a sworn statement to smoking "spice," or a synthetic drug marketed as similar to marijuana, about an hour prior to a crash on October 15th that injured another driver. Coleman's truck rammed into the back of a Honda and pushed it about 260 feet before it flipped. The driver of the other car suffered a broken clavicle and a head injury.
The BPD has recommended that Coleman be charged with felony vehicular assault and hit-and-run in the crash because of "rash and heedless" driving. It claims Coleman was "indifferent to the consequences and that he was impaired by the drug he had smoked." Despite Coleman's admission and the fact that the Bellevue PD found an opened bag of "F'd up" brand synthetic pot in his car, Coleman tested negative for synthetic cannabinoids, per the BPD report.
Investigators have requested that Coleman, 25, be charged with vehicular assault and hit-and-run in the crash, claiming Coleman's driving was "rash and heedless" while he was impaired. The claims against Coleman were forwarded to the King County Prosecutor's Office on Monday; an office spokesman said a charging decision is expected in coming weeks.
Police reports released Monday indicate Coleman tested negative for synthetic cannabinoids, chemical compounds marketed as providing a similar high to marijuana.
So, Coleman may still have to wait several weeks to find out if he'll be charged based on the BPD request.
Per Gregg Bell of the Tacoma News-Tribune,
Dan Donohoe, media relations manager for the King County prosecuting attorney, told me Monday afternoon Coleman's case was referred to his office earlier Monday and it is reviewing it. Donohoe said the potential charges are vehicular assault and hit and run, both felonies, and that the county prosecutor's review is expected to "probably take a few weeks."
Here's a snippet of the BPD report, per Gregg Bell.
Crux of Bellevue PD's case of 2 felonies vs #Seahawks FB Derrick Coleman from its police report of Oct 2-car crash pic.twitter.com/AxGFmCKbrN— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) January 25, 2016
The day after Coleman's crash and subsequent arrest, the Bellevue PD held a press conference to try to provide some details on what had happened. Things weren't super clear at the time, but the basics were:
-- Coleman hit another vehicle from behind at a "very high rate of speed." The other car flew up an embankment and landed upside down, Coleman's truck turned onto its side.
-- Coleman got out and left the scene on foot (barefoot). Eyewitness accounts differ as to whether he ran or walked away. Regardless, leaving the scene is a crime.
-- BPD would not disclose the results of the field sobriety test. Said bloodwork was taken and the results there will help the Prosecutor's Office decide whether or not to press charges. UPDATE: It seems the bloodwork came back negative, but ultimately the BPD decided to recommend charges.
More info here.
Shortly after his arrest, KOMO news released video from an interview Coleman gave with investigators after the accident.
More video from Derrick Coleman last night, describes driving, says he wasn't drinking or on drugs. #liveonkomopic.twitter.com/ddtASxkog1â Eric Jensen (@EricJensenTV) October 15, 2015
In that video, Coleman states that "the last thing" he remembers "was turning right" onto the street on which the accident occurred.
"Our belief is there is a concussion involved," said Coleman's attorney Diego Vargas at the time, "He did not knowingly leave the accident."
Coleman's other lawyer, Stephen Hayne, echoed this.
"When I met with him in the jail - obviously the concern was, 'Was he under the influence of alcohol or drugs?' " Hayne said. "And after a lengthy discussion with him it was apparent he was not in any way. We fully expect that the blood-test results in this case will confirm that in fact he was not under the influence of any illegal substance, alcohol, drugs, anything like that. We believe it was simply an accident one from which there was a natural investigation on the part of the Bellevue Police, but in the end we believe the evidence will fully exonerate Derrick."
Coleman's attorney's also noted that Coleman's hearing aids were knocked loose in the crash, which could've added confusion to an already shocking situation. Coleman has been legally deaf since the age of 3.
Coleman's agent Mark Bloom issued a statement to KOMO News shortly after the accident:
On the evening of October 15, 2015, Seattle Seahawk Fullback Derrick Coleman, Jr. was involved in a two-car collision soon after leaving a team meeting. While the facts of the case are still being determined, it seems Derrick may have fallen asleep while driving home from a Seahawks' facility.
The health and well-being of all involved is our primary concern, and we are thankful to report that both parties are expected to make a full recovery. We will continue to work closely with the local officials while a full investigation is being conducted.
Still seems like a confusing situation -- Coleman's admission and the toxicology results contradict each other, with the added possibility of a concussion involved -- but we will see if the King County Prosecutor's Office ends up pressing charges based on eye-witness accounts and Coleman's own statements. That may not come for a few weeks.