‘You can’t just dismiss life’: Mother of teen killed in police collision sues city, RPD officer for $200 million

Tonight, we are hearing from the family of a young woman killed in a crash involving a Richmond police vehicle.
Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 7:04 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 17, 2023 at 7:10 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - 19-year-old Tracey Williams and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Jeremiah Ruffin, were killed last April when a police cruiser responding to a burglary call hit their vehicle near Bells Road.

The officer driving - Richard Johnson - is facing several charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

Now, Tracey Williams’ mother, Tiara Williams-Hill, is suing the city of Richmond and Officer Richard Johnson, seeking more than $200 million.

Her parents say they needed to take legal action in the name of justice and accountability.

In the lawsuit, the family alleges Johnson showed a disregard for others by speeding through red lights and not operating his sirens.

“That’s my heart, that’s my heart,” Williams said back in April, a day after the crash. “She was so sweet. She had no beef with nobody. She was so loving and caring to everybody.”

Tracey Williams was also the half-sister of Xzavier Hill, who was shot and killed by Virginia State Police on I-64 two years ago.

“You can’t just dismiss life, especially a child,” the mother said.

Tiara Williams is now turning her anguish into action by filing a federal wrongful death lawsuit.

“They just don’t want to take accountability, that’s it,” she said. “They just want to waive everything off and just dismiss it.”

In July, a special grand jury indicted Officer Johnson for failure to yield right of way, reckless driving and two felony counts of involuntary manslaughter. He’s still awaiting trial this spring.

The family of Tracey says this was a relief but not enough.

The lawsuit against the officer alleges he was negligent, showing complete disregard for others as he reached speeds of twice the legal limit, blazing through the red light and killing Tracey and her boyfriend.

The two were thrown from their vehicle upon impact.

“We haven’t even had time to sit back and grieve because we have to keep pushing and keep going,” Williams’ dad Steven Hill said.

The family says this type of justice is what Tracey herself would’ve wanted. When she died, she was pursuing a degree in Criminal Justice.

“Tracey was loving, and as her mom and dad said, all she wanted to do was help people,” the family lawyer Makiba Gaines said. “Her death will not be in vain because she will help other people. She will make sure this does not happen to any other child in Richmond.”

The family says they feel the city is trying to sweep this under the rug, completely disregarding Tracey’s life.

NBC12 asked if RPD personally offered condolences at the time of her death.

“The week that it happened, we got a ‘peace lily.’ That was it. That was all we got,” Hill said.

“Tracey’s life was worth much more than a plant,” Gaines said.

NBC12 reached out to the Office of the City Attorney and RPD.

Both replied, saying they do not comment on pending litigation.