Georgia prosecutor promises charges against driver who ran over 4-year-old girl after police decline


LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A suburban Atlanta prosecutor says she will seek misdemeanor charges against a man who ran over and killed a 4-year-old girl after family members protested when police said felony charges weren't justified.

“We met with family this morning. And we have told them that we fully intend of course to investigate,” Gwinnett County District Attorney Patsy Austin-Gatson told reporters. “But what we have seen now, we fully intend to bring charges on this matter.”

Abigail Hernandez was hit and killed March 10 in a parking lot outside the Mall of Georgia near Buford.

Hernandez was one of three people hit by the Chevrolet Silverado that was making a turn as family members were crossing a street. Abby’s father and sister were taken to hospitals with nonfatal injuries.

Austin-Gaston didn't specify what charges she will seek against the 18-year-old driver. She made the announcement after Gwinnett County police said Monday that no charges were merited. Police said only serious traffic offenses including reckless driving and driving under the influence can be enforced on private property. They said the driver, who cooperated with police, wasn't guilty of any of those offenses.

“Sometimes this happens,” Austin-Gaston said. “We take a second look at cases and make a determination based on what we do on whether we’ll pursue charges or not.”

Hernandez's family has been pressing for charges and held a protest Tuesday before meeting with Austin-Gaston.

“She loved to dance. She loved going to the park. She was little sassy Abby,” her mother, Marina Hernandez, told WANF-TV. “I have that feeling that she is still here, like maybe I’ll see her tomorrow. I don’t know if that is a good thing, but I just want to hold her.”

Lauren Paz, Marina Hernandez's sister-in-law, said criminal charges were needed.

“They may not have wanted to lock him up and ruin his life, but we didn’t want to put her into the ground,” she said.