Tamika Pledger now charged with involuntary manslaughter - KCTV5

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Pledger: 'This happened because of them' after 1 teen dies, 3 injured

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Community activist Tamika Pledger now faces an involuntary manslaughter charge after she allegedly ran into four teens, killing one of them and seriously injuring three. Community activist Tamika Pledger now faces an involuntary manslaughter charge after she allegedly ran into four teens, killing one of them and seriously injuring three.
The new charge comes after she faced a Wyandotte County judge for the first time Tuesday. She had initially been charged with four counts of reckless aggravated battery. The new charge comes after she faced a Wyandotte County judge for the first time Tuesday. She had initially been charged with four counts of reckless aggravated battery.
KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

Community activist and and political candidate Tamika Pledger now faces an involuntary manslaughter charge after authorities say her car slammed into four teens, killing one and injuring three.

A Wyandotte County judge sternly ordered Pledger not to contact any of the victims in the case or their family members. The judge's order came Tuesday morning after portions of an 18-minute jailhouse conversation was played in court in which Pledger outlined her efforts to get family members of the victims to ask District Attorney Jerome Gorman to drop all charges.

"All this happened because of them, not because of me," Pledger said during the phone call.

Tuesday's appearance was the first time that Pledger has faced a judge in the case. She had bonded out last week after she was initially charged with four counts of reckless aggravated battery.

Before she bonded out, she told a family member that she didn't know why she was still in jail. She said it was an accident, no one blamed her and all the charges should be dropped.

One of those charges was amended Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter. This is because Raytown High School student Tierra Smith, 17, died Friday, which was a week after the crash.

Pledger had nothing to say to waiting reporters as she walked into court Tuesday morning. At least one of the victims is a family member of Pledger's.

Despite her legal troubles, Pledger vows to stay the course as a candidate for the Unified Government Commission.

"In spite of what the devil is trying to do, I am still on the ballot," Pledger wrote on her Facebook page. "To silence me is to silence our community. You know the system wasn't created for us. It is broken to the core. Have you ever been wronged by this system? We all have at some point. My fight for the best for my community continues."

"She does not like to hurt anybody. She helps them when they need help. I think they're trying to wreck her life because she is running for commissioner and mayor. They keep trying to run her out of office," Pledger's aunt, Tina Cooper, said Tuesday. "I do know she is not that type of person to hurt somebody because she loves kids."

Cooper said she believes that her niece's brakes failed as she raced to stop a fight involving her niece.

"If she says her brakes failed, they failed because she is not going to lie," Cooper said.

During the hearing, Pledger did not have an attorney and represented herself.

In an unusual move for a first appearance hearing, prosecutors played for the judge part of the 18-minute phone call between Pledger and one of her family members. During that phone call, they spoke about their "strategy."

"If I don't get out of here, get with Plan B and Plan C," Pledger said. "I need all the family to come together and say, 'I'm the mother of the child, I'm the uncle of the child, I'm the whatever. We know it was an accident, we know who was responsible for this issue and we need her out.'"

These plans included seeking coverage from media outlets.

"When I get out of here or whatever, I want to speak to the nature of why these kids aren't caught? Why aren't they locked up for being a part in what happened? Their big part of what happened," Pledger said during the call. "All of this happened because of them, not because of me."

A representative for the University of Kansas Hospital told the judge that Pledger had called the ICU unit several times. Pledger denied this, and told the judge that she fears someone will impersonate her and she will then be jailed. She also said prosecutors didn't play the entire recording in which she talked about family members not blaming her.

The judge prohibited Pledger from any contact with victims or family involved in the case. This includes email and Facebook. If she violates the order, she could return to jail.

A family spokesman for Smith said they are heartbroken by the loss and plan to follow Pledger's case closely. They are trusting the judicial system.

"They understand it might not have been intentional, but they do understand sometimes you have to suffer the consequences for accidents and that's where they're at right now." Morris Letcher said. "I'm more concerned with helping my cousin lay my niece to rest. That's what's important."

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