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MELBOURNE — Family members of Passion Lucas — the mother of six children killed in a DUI crash last June — and supporters of the woman arrested in the case verbally clashed outside an equestrian event in Wickham Park on Sunday.
Nearly a dozen protesters, including several Lucas children, gathered in Wickham Park after 9 a.m., where a horse massage event was being held. Suzanna Norris, 50, arrested in connection with the DUI in December, was one of the participants.
Previously:Passion Lucas’ family questions Brevard State’s Attorney who dropped drunken manslaughter charge
Melbourne Police were called to the public park as event organizers attempted to ward off protesters as they live-streamed the rally.
“Suzanna, you should be in jail,” Passion’s sister Makita Lucas said as she walked through the grounds with protesters in tow during the live stream. “I don’t want that,” Norris replied as she tried to quell a friend’s comments.
“These are his children,” Makita Lucas pointed out as Norris stood several feet away.
“Now is not the time,” Norris said before walking away.
An officer spoke at length with the protesters, including Makita, and even prayed with the family after explaining they had a right to be in the public park. “According to the officer, the argument was in reference to the case. It was peaceful, it was not hostile and nothing criminal happened,” said Melbourne Police Department shift commander Lt. Nicole Gould.
The case drew attention after Makita Lucas raised questions about a series of errors in the Cocoa Police investigation. Norris, of Cocoa, has been formally charged with second-degree impaired driving in connection with the death of Passion Lucas, according to prison records. Prosecutors chose not to pursue the manslaughter charge originally filed by cocoa police.
Continued:Mother of slain army soldier says she is seeking justice, sentencing brings relief and grief
Lucas was walking along Industry Road on June 20 when she was hit by a car driven by Norris, whose blood alcohol level was double the legal limit, police said. However, prosecutors used preliminary information from traffic reconstruction experts who said the crash was “inevitable” for Norris, and said “the pedestrian created the hazard by walking (in the direction of the vehicle )”.
The impaired driving charge came after increasing pressure on police by Makita Lucas and a flawed criminal record from a Cocoa Police Department traffic homicides officer who said no one had was injured in the accident.
Norris is the founder of Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds in Cocoa and is known in Brevard charity circles. Norris was terminated from the HART organization in December, said Donna Manfredi, chair of the board. Norris hired attorney Alan Landman to handle the criminal case. If convicted, she could face less than six months in county jail for the charge.
Organizers of the equestrian event did not immediately respond to inquiries. Makita Lucas’ attorney has requested a court hearing demanding that prosecutors notify Passion Lucas’ family of any negotiations with Norris.
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