Law Enforcement Support

Mission Moment – Feb 2021

A Mother’s Love

By: Anne Kimmel and Lois Benjamin

David and Sharree 20 minutes before their lives were taken.

Thank you, officers, in advance.

Thank you for your protection.

Thank you for stopping every person you see driving erratically or speeding or drunk.

We thank you, officers, for preventing the excruciating and relentless heart ache that we go through every day and will for the rest of our lives.

Though the tragic loss of our children happened 2 years ago on March 2nd, 2019. Our grief does not lessen with time. Time just serves to separate us more and more from the joyful laughter and intimate conversations and sweet touch of our dear Sharree and David.

David and Sharree met in Philadelphia, both having gone to and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. They each ended up in New Orleans: David, for Tulane Law and for his 11/11/2017 marriage in Audubon Park, and Sharree, to participate in fellowship as Assistant Director of the New Orleans YMCA. She eventually landed a job running a non-profit dedicated to helping millennials become philanthropists. David moved on to practice law in Seattle, WA.

David was visiting NOLA for a good friend’s wedding. His new wife, Jorie, was flying out from Seattle where they’d moved, the next day to join him. Sharree had lived in NOLA for the past 5 years. Both David and Sharree gathered at a mutual friends’ house to celebrate Mardi Gras and later attend the Endymion Parade. They were bicycling with these same friends after the parade.

Anne and David

Lois and Sharree

Their sweet lives were cut short, by the blunt force of a speeding car going over 80 mile an hour, driven like a weapon through a throng of people riding bikes in the bike lane, including David and Sharree and their friends. Seventeen times, over six blocks, Tashonty Toney hit a person, a bike or a car before crashing his own car and then running away on foot. He did not escape and was arrested. March 2nd was his 32nd birthday. He was 4 times over the legal limit at 8pm night. He was high on Tequila and tranquilizers (admitted by his own testimony). March 2nd, he sent 5 people into critical care at the hospital. March 2nd, he killed handsome 31-year-old David Hynes and beautiful 27-year-old Sharree Walls.

Sharree and David were the young people who you wanted to inherit the world because, after spending just a few minutes with either of them, you knew that they would make the world a better place. They were absolute overachievers that had an incredible zest for life while fully and faithfully invested in the lives of others. They enjoyed volunteering and, interestingly enough, both worked with the Lafitte Greenway, dedicated to creating safe bicycle trails in New Orleans. The outpouring of love and support from colleagues, friends and family remains incredible and a testament of the love they gave and the lives they lived.

Tashonty Toney is now behind bars until well into his sixties. The amount of pain he caused to those he hit, and to friends and family who loved the two sweet young souls just starting their lives who he killed, to his family and to himself is just incalculable. We really had no idea that grief could be this penetrating and this relentless.

We’d like to thank the NOLA officers who professionally, diligently, and relentlessly worked this case supporting us along the way. We will be eternally grateful for their hard work and the compassion they showed to our families.

So, we encourage you and thank you in advance for the lives you will save through your good service in diligently watching for drivers who should not be on the road. In response to the much-publicized cry of “Defund the Police”, we know that policing is vitally necessary, acknowledge the many difficult duties at hand to keep us all safe, and we fully support your efforts to broaden the training and get the assistance you need to respond effectively to the diverse needs of people who show psychologically abnormal or aberrant behavior. Clearly Tashonty Toney’s behavior demonstrated, and the judge stated, that he was not just drunk, he was psychopathic.

We appreciate what you have done in the past and, though it cannot be measured, for the sorrow you have prevented in this world. We, as mothers who shoulder the heavy burden of loss, the senseless loss, of our exquisite children, thank you from the bottom of our broken hearts.

Anne Kimmel (Mother of David Hynes)
Lois Benjamin (Mother of Sharree Walls)

Guest Author – Feb 2021

Alex Otte, MADD’s New National President, Shares Her Story and Heart with Law Enforcement.

Many would say they generally understand the selfless contributions that law enforcement personnel make to our communities every day, others still would say that while they may not understand, they appreciate the sacrifices made by law enforcement personnel and their families to keep all of us safe. I can tell you that not only do I understand and appreciate it, I’m marrying it. I say all of this to tell you from the beginning that when I say thank you and that I understand the sacrifices that you and your families make every day that you put on the uniform, you know where I’m coming from.

My name is Alex Otte and I am MADD’s new National President. I am 24 years old and I live in Lexington, Kentucky, with my fiancé, Zach (a patrol officer for LPD), and our two giant dogs, Sheriff and Sergeant.

I came to MADD for the same reason a lot of people do. I was run over by a drunk driver. I wasn’t hit in a vehicle, I wasn’t involved in a minor crash, I was a child, and I was run over.

It was July 2, 2010. I was 13 years old. I was sitting on a jet ski behind my dad’s house on Lake Herrington in Danville, Kentucky. I was waiting for my mom and brother to dock our boat so that I could dock my jet ski and go up to the house. There was a 17-foot bass boat coming under a nearby blue bridge, and I gave my mom a thumbs up to tell her that I saw him coming and I wasn’t going to move.

Herrington is a very narrow lake, and on either side is a steep rock embankment. I was near the right side of the lake, so I stayed still. The boat was headed toward my mom and brother, and my mom screamed. He banked it to the left and never straightened up.

The boat hit me from the side going more than 60 mph. I flew off the jet ski and landed face down in the water. The boat went up over the jet ski and came down on top of my body before it sunk. I suffered many severe injuries including a traumatic brain injury, a broken neck, bilateral shattered femurs and the loss of my right leg. I was airlifted to the trauma hospital in Lexington with very little chance of surviving.

The man who ran me over was more than three times the legal blood alcohol limit, two and a half hours later. He was charged $250.

I wanted to be the last little girl that this ever happened to. I know more than 10 years later that I wasn’t, but I will continue to fight until that day comes, and I am so grateful that you will, too.

As I said before, I am marrying into the law enforcement life. I understand what it is that you do and the sacrifices that each of you and your families make every day. I know the frustration that comes with continuing to diligently do your job and sometimes the laws not making that any easier.

Many of you see victims of drunk and drugged driving and other violent crimes on the worst days of their entire life, and you don’t get to see what happens after. I’m what happens after. I want to encourage you that despite the frustrations that come with your profession, you are saving lives. Being vigilant about stopping drunk and drugged drivers and getting them off our nation’s roads and waterways will put an end to stories like mine and so many others. Thank you. Please continue to fight the good fight and know that you are having an impact on so many lives and saving so many others.

Officer of the Month – Feb 2021

MADD February 2021 Officer of the Month

Trooper First Class William Smith

Florida Highway Patrol

Trooper First Class William Smith has been a member of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) for seven years. He has been dedicated to DUI enforcement within the Tampa Bay area the entire time. In the short amount of time he has been with the FHP, he has arrested over 550 impaired drivers and has voluntarily been on the midnight shift to hunt impaired drivers for the last five years.

Trooper Smith uses data driven approaches to proactively look for impaired drivers in areas that show the highest amount of DUI crashes. He has made it a point to respond to any deputy or police officer in the area who has stopped a suspected impaired driver to assist with the investigation.

Trooper Smith has been recognized by the State Attorney's Office for his sterling reports that always result in a conviction. He is always on the ready to testify in any proceeding regardless of the time of day or being sleep deprived from the previous night's shift.

In 2019 alone, FHP data shows Trooper Smith was personally responsible for over 1,300 traffic stops in Pinellas County alone that resulted in 104 DUI arrests. These arrests also include drug impaired driving cases that require more time to investigate and professionally prosecute.

Trooper First Class Smith is also instrumental in educating the public in community forums and providing DUI Enforcement training to new troopers and other agencies on his own time. His passion is to rid the roadways of impaired drivers in any way possible through education, training, and enforcement. He has received the MADD FL 100 Club Award.

MADD National is proud to select Trooper First Class William Smith as the February 2021 Officer of the Month. We thank him for his dedicated service and wish him safety and the best throughout his remaining career. Thanks to MADD Florida State Executive Director Larry Coggins for his nomination of Trooper Smith for the Officer of the Month recognition.

MADD extends our deepest condolences to the agencies and families who have lost officers and loved ones in the line of duty

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For a complete listing of Officers lost in the line of duty, please visit: www.odmp.org

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