RAVENNA TOWNSHIP, Ohio- – Video released by the Ohio State Highway Patrol shows the confrontation between officers and a suspect that led up to a deadly crash in Portage County.
According to investigators, Joshua Kalili, 27, resisted arrest and escaped from officers during a traffic stop on State Route 59 in Ravenna Township on April 18.
He then drove away with Brianna “Brii” Lewandowski in the front passenger seat, crashing into a cement block along a private road a short time later, killing Lewandowski, according to troopers.
“It was senseless, and too soon,” said Brii’s mother, Chrissy Lewandowski, who brought flowers to the crash site Wednesday. “To say goodbye, see if I could feel her, see if I could be any closer to her.”
She said the Stark State College student was “very loving” and “had a big heart.”
The incident began when a trooper stopped Kalili for a registration violation around 11:54 p.m. and observed signs that he might be impaired, according to OSHP.
Video from an OSHP cruiser shows the trooper walking Kalili to the front seat of his cruiser, where Kalili performed a field sobriety test and told the trooper he had “two beers… maybe three” earlier in the night.
After the trooper placed Kalili in the back of the cruiser, he is seen moving around and reaching past the partition into the passenger cab. When the trooper and a Ravenna Police officer then tried to place handcuffs on Kalili, troopers said he resisted.
“Put your hands behind your back,” the trooper ordered.
“What am I being detained for?” Kalili repeatedly asked.
Kalili struggled with the officers and was able to break away from them. Despite the officers deploying a taser, Kalili was able to run back to the vehicle he had been driving. A passenger in the back seat jumped out before Kalili drove away, with Lewandowski still in the passenger seat.
After crashing, investigators said Kalili ran away. Law enforcement found him more than an hour later in the nearby Orchard Estates mobile home community, where he was arrested and then taken to a hospital.
Kalili was indicted on five felony charges including aggravated vehicular homicide, kidnapping and assault on a police officer. He was being held in the Portage County Jail, and a judge set bond at $1 million. Investigators were awaiting results of toxicology testing.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Kalili chose not to comply, not to go by the law and unfortunately there are a lot of people that are hurting because of his actions and his choices,” said OSHP Ravenna Post Commander Lt. Jeffrey Greene.
Greene said the officers acted appropriately.
“The right thing, I would say to the public, is to comply with the officer. In a worst case scenario, if you feel you’re being treated improperly, there’s a court process for that, there’s a supervisory process,” he said.
Chrissy Lewandowski said Brii’s family is still grappling with her sudden death. Investigators said she was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Lewandowski said she feels that’s an indication she tried to escape from the vehicle.
“When the other kid jumped out of the car, I think she tried to jump out too because she always had her seatbelt on,” Lewandowski said. “I still can’t believe that she’s gone. I still can’t believe he didn’t just take his punishment over something so stupid.”