Days before she faces a tough primary fight, District 6 City Councilor Kendra Lara on Thursday presented the findings of a report she commissioned that showed she was not speeding when she crashed her car into a home in Jamaica Plain in June.
The report by The Crash Lab, an accident reconstructionist company hired by Lara, used data from the car’s black box to find that Lara was only driving 27 miles per hour, about half of the 53 miles per hour alleged in the police report, Lara said at a press conference.
“This is not a guess or an estimate,” Lara said, speaking outside Blessed Sacrament Church in Jamaica Plain Thursday evening. “It is the recorded speed at the time of the accident.”
The speed limit is 25 miles per hour in the area of Centre Street, where the June 30 crash occurred.
“Now we have fairly concrete evidence ... that the statements that were made at the scene don’t comport with fairly irrefutable facts,” said Lara’s attorney, Carlton Williams.
When Lara heard the number the report found this morning, she wept, Williams said.
“She said: ‘This is my life,’” he said.
A spokesperson for the Worcester district attorney’s office said they cannot comment on pending cases.
Lara, a first-term councilor, faces two challengers in Tuesday’s preliminary election. The crash and criminal charges facing Lara have loomed large on the campaign trail.
On June 30, Lara was driving down Centre Street, allegedly in an unregistered and uninsured car, and hit a Jamaica Plain home, sending her 7-year-old son to the hospital to get stitches. Police said in their report that she was driving 53 miles per hour and there was no evidence she had tried to brake the vehicle, the Globe has reported.
Lara has apologized and pleaded not guilty to the charges, which included negligent operation of a motor vehicle, assault and battery on a child with injury, operating a motor vehicle after suspension, operating an unregistered motor vehicle, and operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Her attorney has since argued for a dismissal of the case.
At the press briefing Thursday, Lara said that the crash happened because a car pulled out of a driveway with no warning. She attempted to avoid the car, but with another oncoming vehicle in the next lane, she had to make a sharp turn to avoid both those vehicles and hit the home.
Lara also disputed prosecutors’ allegations that the car she was driving was not insured.
“I want to take this moment to clarify that the car that I was driving was, in fact, insured,” Lara said. “I’ve spoken with the homeowner and apologized personally and provided her with the necessary information to make her insurance claim.”
Williams said the crucial mistake lies in the calculations an officer must have done to conclude how fast she was going. After an accident, skid marks are typically used to calculate the driver’s speed at the time.
But there were no skid marks at the scene, according to Williams. If one made the calculations with a skid mark of zero feet, they would find Lara was going 27 miles per hour, he said. And if one did the calculations using 153 feet — the total distance of the swerve — they could find she was going 53 miles per hour.
In response to the concerns regarding the lack of registration and insurance, Lara said that she had been driving a friend’s car with lapsed registration, and a clerk magistrate dropped the charges when the friend explained the registration had only lapsed for a few weeks.
“It’s an oversight that can happen to anyone,” she said. “And I don’t think that it’s an oversight that makes me ineligible to be in public office.”
She added that though her license had been suspended for ten years, she had not been driving that whole time; living in the “quintessential 15-minute neighborhood,” she said, she’d only developed the need to drive recently with her new job and school transportation delays for her child.
“I hope that my worst moment does not overshadow two years of a reliable, progressive work record and policies that have been centered on working people all across the district and the city of Boston,” she said. “It has been the north star that has driven my work.”
This story has been updated.