Tristin Goods, the father of an 11-year-old girl who was killed in a fatal car crash days before Christmas, is finally speaking up about the incident, accusing a state police officer in upstate New York for the death of his child, the Associated Press reported.
“What did I do? What threat did I pose?” Goods asked in an exclusive interview with The New York Daily News. “It is just so hurtful. The guy was crazy. It’s illegal what he did.”
Goods was stopped for speeding while driving with his wife and two children on Dec. 22, 2020. Instead of handling the situation appropriately with a ticket, the officer who stopped him not only accused his family of hiding drugs in their car but pepper-sprayed them without warning.
According to the Daily News, a criminal investigation has been launched over the incident against the officer in question, Trooper Christopher Baldner. Goods recalled that the officer approached him yelling at him that the car was going so fast it “shook” his patrol vehicle. When Goods attempted to explain that it was probably the tractor that was in front of him that caused the ground to shake not his car, the officer then proceeded to curse at him further and accuse the family of harboring “guns or drugs.”
Goods noted that he kept his hands on the wheel the entire time out of fear and asked to speak to a supervisor. That’s when things took a turn for the worse. The officer went back to his cruiser and when he returned to the vehicle he sprayed the inside with pepper spray without warning. According to Goods, the officer was aware there were two young girls in the back seat. “He didn’t warn us he was going to use pepper spray,” Goods said. “He didn’t say ‘Get out of the car’ or ‘You’re under arrest.’”
Afraid for his life and the safety of his family, Goods reacted to his instincts and drove away. “I didn’t know what he was going to do next,” Goods said. “I was like, ‘Holy s--t. This guy is going to kill me now.’”
The officer then pursued him by ramming into his vehicle in an attempt to get it to stop, not once but twice. When he rammed into the car a second time, the car flipped over a guardrail resulting in Good's youngest daughter, Monica, being thrown from the vehicle and killed.
Following the crash, Good said he attempted to find his daughter but was held at gunpoint by the officer who continued to racially profile him and ask if he had drugs in the car. Additionally, his surviving daughter who was traumatized by the incident, 12-year-old Tristina, was held for questioning for at least four hours without a member of the family present, the Daily News reported. The girl’s mother, Michelle Surrency, previously told the outlet that she had to free Tristina from the troopers’ barracks.
Goods’ account serves as the first moment-by-moment description of what happened that night in a case that has resulted in several lawsuits against Baldner and the state police, according to the Daily News. “This should have been a traffic ticket,” Goods’ lawyer, Joseph O’Connor said.
According to a State Police policy obtained by Daily News through a Freedom of Information request, high-speed pursuits should be “minimized” and it bars using “reckless or hazardous measures” even if the civilian driver is doing the same. The policy was partially redacted by the agency.
“The pursuit must be terminated when it becomes apparent to the officer that the immediacy of apprehension is outweighed by a clear and unreasonable danger to the public,” the policy reads.
While Baldner is still employed as a state trooper, he has been reassigned to desk duty since the incident in December, William Duffy, a spokesman for the state police, said. An investigation against his actions is being led by New York State Attorney General Letitia James. “While we understand the desire for answers to the many questions surrounding this incident, we can’t address the details until these investigations are complete,” Duffy said.