California, Cars, Crime, Law Schools, Violence

Law Student Allegedly Lives Out Issue-Spotter When Cops Say She Used Car As a Deadly Weapon

How’s this for a crim law issue-spotter:

Laura Law Student is ejected from a bar late one night. As she passes a nearby public library, Laura witnesses a group of people that she suspects of painting graffiti on the library. Laura confronts the vandals and they punch her, steal her phone, and tag her car. After the attack, Laura gets in her freshly tagged car and tries to run down the vandals.

Unfortunately, Laura’s car strikes a bystander during the chase, and Laura attempts to leave the scene of the accident.

It sounds absurd, but this is actually an account of what police claim a real-life law student did on Saturday morning….

A Hastings Law student, Meghan Anne Zato, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and an enhancement of causing great bodily injury as well as felony leaving the scene of an accident. Police have also performed a blood test and prosecutors reserve the right to charge her with driving under the influence depending on the results of the test.

It’s been a rough week for Hastings on the public relations front, from racism in the school library and Dean Wu potentially being an alien to this. Hopefully this spate of bad luck for the school will pass soon.

Anyway, here’s the police account of the incident:

Police said the violence happened about 12:45 a.m. Saturday after Zato was asked to leave a bar on the block. She and a man were walking to her car parked across the street when they saw the taggers using markers to deface the library wall.

When the man told them they should not be doing that, he was confronted and pushed several times, police said.

Zato was standing outside her car and told the group she was going to call police. Police said someone in the group punched her at least twice in the face and either that person or another person in the group grabbed her cellphone away.

She got into her car which the group began rocking and tagging, police said before she was able to drive off.

Police said she made a U-turn on 14th Street before driving down the wrong side of the street at the group. [Bystander James] Roda was in the middle of the street when he was struck and knocked about 100 feet. His head cracked the windshield, authorities said. Zato drove away but was followed by witnesses who boxed her car in until police arrived and arrested her.

The allegation that Zato was trying to run down the vandals in her Mercedes (obvi) has a certain Lawrence Phillips-y feel to it. And remember, Lawrence Phillips is not only the most notorious sixth overall NFL draft pick, but really the worst person ever.

If Zato’s story is accurate, she was not setting out to be the next Phillips, but rather was a victim herself, worked up over having been attacked. Unfortunately, a bystander suffered grave injury as a result. This is why we don’t write laws to allow victims to respond with deadly force if they can safely flee.

Or at least this is why rational jurisdictions don’t write laws allowing victims to respond with deadly force if they can safely flee.

Hastings law student charged with felony hit-and-run in graffiti-related attack [Contra Costa Times]

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