Contact: Ken Daley, Public Information
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office on Wednesday (May 1) secured an indictment against the drunk driver who killed two cyclists and injured seven others when he plowed through an occupied bike lane at high speed on Esplanade Avenue two months ago during Mardi Gras.
Tashonty Toney was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree vehicular negligent injuring, one count of vehicular negligent injuring, and seven counts of hit-and-run driving in a 16-count indictment handed up by an Orleans Parish special grand jury. Criminal District Judge Camille Buras left unchanged Toney’s $510,000 bond amount after the indictment was read.
Toney, 32, was captured at the scene after wrecking his black 2018 Camaro into the neutral ground at the end of a five-block path of destruction along Esplanade Avenue in Mid-City. The crimes occurred around 8:15 p.m. on March 2, shortly after the Krewe of Endymion’s Mardi Gras parade had passed nearby.
Among the cyclists Toney struck from behind in the 3300 block of Esplanade were 27-year-old Sharee Walls of New Orleans and 31-year-old David Hynes of Seattle, both of whom were killed at the scene.
Other victims struck and injured by Toney included two 28-year-old women, a 31-year-old man, a 62-year-old man, a 53-year-old woman, a 56-year-old woman and finally a 27-year-old woman who was hurt less severely than the others.
The hit-and-run driving counts stem from a vehicle struck on the side by Toney’s car on Carrollton Avenue near City Park Avenue, and six other cars, trucks and SUVs struck by the Camaro as it raced down Esplanade at speeds in excess of 80 mph.
Because New Orleans Police traffic fatality investigators have scientifically estimated that Toney’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.215 at the time of the incident, the vehicular homicide charges are enhanced as crimes of violence. Under Louisiana law, that means that if convicted as charged, Toney would be required to serve at least 75 percent of his sentence related to the two deaths.
Vehicular homicide carries a sentence of 5 to 30 years in state prison. When two or more victims are killed in the same incident, state law mandates that the vehicular homicide sentence imposed for each victim must be served consecutive to each other, not concurrently. Thus, if found guilty as charged, Toney faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
Assistant District Attorney Abigail MacDonald presented the case to the special grand jury.
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