September 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Gay man gets 4 years in hit-and-run death
National LGBT Bar Association, Gay News, Washington Blade

Gay restaurant manager Joel Bromwell was sentenced to four years in jail for the March 21 hit and run accident in which the vehicle he was driving struck and killed a 71-year-old. (Photo via Wikimedia)

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Aug. 30 sentenced gay restaurant manager Joel Bromwell to four years in jail for the March 21 hit and run accident in which the vehicle he was driving struck and killed a 71-year-old woman on a street in Northeast D.C.

Bromwell, 32, pled guilty in May to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with the incident. He has been held in jail since the time he was arrested on the night of the accident. The maximum sentence for the two offenses is 30 years incarceration.

Many among his wide circle of friends in the D.C. gay community described Bromwell as a kind and gentle person who would never intentionally hurt anyone, and expressed shock upon learning of the incident.

A statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office on the day of the sentencing says eyewitnesses saw Bromwell’s sport utility vehicle strike Ruby Whitfield as she was walking across the 1100 block of Florida Avenue, N.E. in a clearly marked crosswalk.  The statement says Whitfield, who had just left a church ushers meeting, became lodged beneath the SUV and was dragged about 86 feet as Bromwell continued driving.

One of the witnesses in a nearby car drove up to Bromwell’s SUV a block from the scene of the accident, told Bromwell he had hit someone, and urged him to return to the scene, the statement says. It says Bromwell ignored the witness and drove away.

D.C. police a short time later located Bromwell’s SUV and Bromwell and arrested him. When taken to a police station breath tests showed that his blood alcohol was above the legal limit for driving, the U.S. Attorney’s statement says.

The Washington Post reported Bromwell submitted a written statement to the court saying that “from the morning when I wake up to the every night when I go to sleep, I feel the pain and anguish I’ve caused other people…Because of my choices, I’ve hurt people in ways that is not fathomable.”

According to the Post, the victim’s daughter, Tasyha Whitfield, told the court in a written statement that the incident that took her mother’s life was a “heartless and senseless crime” and that she doesn’t accept Bromwell’s expression of remorse.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • I just read the story of "Gay man gets four years for Hit and Run Death" and I an concerned with the headline for the story. In a hit and run death, for which the man pleaded guilty, why does his sexual orientation as a gay man make any difference?

  • 4 years for murdering a woman in a cross walk, leaving her for dead, and THEN speeding off after someone witnessed him kill her? White privilege still exists. And it is wonderful thing to have.

  • did you make it any further than the headline because the headline is one of the least startling things about this.

  • Shane… I think he should have been sentenced to life in prison for what he did. You cite this as an example of white privilege. What about the black criminals who beat, rob and kill whites. Many of them dont even get 4 years in prison. Remember OJ Simpson? Remember the white gay man who was brutally murdered a few blocks from Nellies? His case was plea bargained down to a few months because the prosecutors knew they couldnt get a black DC jury to convict a black man for killing a gay white man. You fail to see that blacks often get favored treatment because black juries wont convict blacks for killing whites.

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