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Press Release

Former D.C. Firefighter Sentenced to 2 ½ Years in Prison For Street Drag Race That Killed Uninvolved Motorist

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Columbia

           WASHINGTON – Ryan Thompson, 26, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to a 2 ½ - year prison term on a charge of negligent homicide for a drag race with another driver on 16th Street NW, that resulted in a crash which caused the death of an uninvolved motorist. U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu and Peter Newsham, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) made the announcement.

           Thompson pled guilty on June 17, 2019, in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The plea, which was agreed upon by the government and the defense and contingent upon the Court’s approval, called for a sentence of between 6 months and 3 years in prison. The Honorable Milton C. Lee accepted the plea and sentenced Thompson to 2 ½-year prison term.

           The fatal crash occurred at approximately 3:20 a.m. on Sunday, July 19, 2015.  Thompson was stopped at a red light in the right northbound lane of 16th Street in Northwest Washington when he encountered another driver, Rasheed Murray, stopped next to him in the left northbound lane. When the light turned green both drivers, who did not know one another, began to race northbound on 16th Street, at speeds estimated by uninvolved eyewitnesses to approach 90 miles per hour in the 30 mile per hour zone. According to the eyewitnesses, both drivers veered through traffic and passed slower moving vehicles as they tried to out-maneuver one another. As Thompson and Murray approached a red light at Montague Street NW, Thompson, who had passed Murray, veered into the left lane forward of Murray. To avoid rear-ending Thompson, Murray veered sharply to his left, struck the raised median separating northbound from southbound traffic, went airborne, and collided with a southbound vehicle being driven by the victim, Matthew Roth. 

           Mr. Roth suffered fatal injuries and was taken to MedStar Washington Hospital Center where he was declared brain dead. Mr. Roth remained on a ventilator until his family came to  Washington from New Jersey and his organs could be harvested. Life-sustaining efforts were later withdrawn and Mr. Roth died. 

           After the crash, Murray was also taken to a hospital where he was treated for minor injuries, released and immediately charged in the fatal crash. Thompson, who was at the time a DC Firefighter, remained on the scene and, along with his two passengers, rendered first aid to Murray. When first responders arrived, Thompson left the scene without admitting to officers that he had raced with Murray and caused the crash. After Thompson left, uninvolved eyewitnesses told responding MPD officers that Thompson, the man who stopped to render aid, had been the driver racing with Murray, causing the fatal crash. Further investigation by MPD’s Major Crash Investigations Unit led to Thompson being charged. Rasheed Murray had previously pled guilty and was prepared to testify against Thompson if he had proceeded to trial.  Murray awaits sentencing scheduled for February of 2020. 

           In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Liu and Chief Newsham commended the work of the officers and detectives who investigated the case from the Major Crash Investigations Unit of the Metropolitan Police Department. They acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Investigative Analyst Zachary McMenamin, Paralegal Specialists Stephanie Siegerist and Lorce Applewhite, and Victim/Witness Advocates Jennifer Clark and Marcia Rinker. 

           Finally, they commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward A. O’Connell, who prosecuted the case.



Updated December 3, 2019

Press Release Number: 19-214