On Dec. 22, a Black mother and father lost one of their two children after a New York state trooper rammed the family’s SUV with his patrol car. According to state police officials, the collision occurred when the driver fled after being pulled over, but the driver tells a much fuller story involving a description of egregious police violence and unnecessary aggressiveness. Six months later, the state trooper is on desk duty and the incident that ended an 11-year-old Black girl’s life is still being investigated.
Tristin Goods, 39, told the N.Y. Daily News that he was driving his wife, April, and his daughters, 11-year-old Monica, and 12-year-old Tristina, to visit relatives when the family was pulled over for speeding by a state trooper identified as Christopher Baldner.
From the Daily News:
Goods says the trooper yelled at him during the stop.
“He was screaming at me, ‘You were going 100 miles per hour and you shook my car!’ Goods recalled.
“I said ‘The tractor trailer in front of me shook your car.’ I had my hands on the steering wheel. I didn’t get out of the car. I was no threat him,” Goods said. “I asked for a supervisor.”
The two argued — with the trooper demanding to know if there were “guns or drugs” in the car, Goods recounted.
“My wife said she was tired, and he said, ‘I don’t give a s—t if you’re tired,’” Good recalled.
The trooper returned to his cruiser — and when he returned, he flooded Goods’ SUV with pepper spray. Goods said the trooper was well aware there were young girls in the car when he sprayed.
“He didn’t warn us he was going to use pepper spray,” Goods said. “He didn’t say ‘Get out of the car’ or ‘You’re under arrest.’”
Goods said his daughters were crying, and he feared for his family’s safety. Instinctively, he said, he drove off.
“I didn’t know what he was going to do next,” Goods said. “I was like, ‘Holy s—t. This guy is going to kill me now.’”
Baldner, records show, gave chase — and used his state police car to ram the back of Good’s SUV. About eight seconds later, Goods said, Baldner rammed his car a second time.
The news release published by the state police didn’t add any further context. All it says is that “State Police attempted to stop a vehicle on I-87 in the town of Ulster for a vehicle and traffic violation,” and that “Shortly after the traffic stop was initiated, the driver fled the scene northbound and a pursuit ensued.”
It also mentions that Monica wasn’t wearing a seatbelt when the trooper rammed the family’s SUV and that she was pronounced dead at the scene. The Daily News reports that after Baldner rammed the SUV a second time, it hit a guardrail, flipped and rolled, and Monica was ejected from the vehicle. Goods was the only other person in the vehicle who had reported injuries. According to the news release, his injuries were serious but non-life-threatening and he was transported to Kingston Hospital and later transferred to Westchester Medical Center for treatment. It’s unclear if he was ever arrested and charged with a crime.
Goods said that after the crash, he tried to leave the SUV to find his daughter, but Baldner pointed his gun at him and questioned him again about whether he had any guns or drugs in the car.
“What did I do? What threat did I pose?” Goods asked the Daily News through tears. “It is just so hurtful. The guy was crazy. It’s illegal what he did.” He also said that, after the crash, his other daughter Tristina, who survived the impact with no reported injuries, was questioned by police for four hours without a parent present.
According to NBC New York, State Attorney General Letitia James announced an investigation into Monica’s death on Dec. 28. Goods’ attorney, Joseph O’Connor, told the Daily News that he and his team are “confident that our clients’ accounts of what happened are consistent with the scientific evidence and the forensic evidence from the scene.”