I’ve never heard of a motorist involved in a nonviolent road rage incident who got treated the way Khasandra Franklin did.
Not only was the 24-year-old single mother charged with six different offenses — aggravated assault, simple assault, tampering with evidence, recklessly endangering another person, possession of an instrument of crime, and obstructing justice — Franklin also spent a night in jail and had her car towed.
We’re talking about a nonviolent run-in on the road. There was no reason for her car to be taken or for her to have been locked up.
If you suspect there’s more to the story, you’re absolutely right. Franklin’s roadway run-in wasn’t with just any other motorist. Hers was with Anthony Voci, chief of the Homicide Unit in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.
“She got railroaded because of someone’s ego getting the best of him," said David Fisher, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of the National Black Police Association. “He abused his power. She was falsely arrested. And it was all due to white privilege.”
Earlier this week, I talked to Franklin and her passenger. During separate interviews, each accused Voci of having referred to them as “Black bitches” during the Sept. 16 encounter. Those are serious allegations, particularly considering the current racial reckoning that the country is undergoing as it relates to criminal justice and reform.
District attorney’s spokesperson Jane Roh declined to comment. The case has been referred to the state Attorney General’s Office to avoid even the perception of a conflict of interest.
Voci told me via text: “I did not use any racial or derogatory language and I deny any/all false allegations made by the defendant in this criminal matter.”
The women’s allegations aside, it’s ironic that someone who works for a progressive like District Attorney Larry Krasner would even be accused of something like this.
Franklin said she was coming home from South Street and picked up her friend Jasmyne. As the pair rode along Kelly Drive to get to Lincoln Drive about 11 p.m., they encountered Voci, 57, on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle in the northbound lanes.
According to the police report, as he reached Midvale Avenue, Franklin’s car approached on his left. “Suddenly and without warning,” he said, it cut in front of him, causing him to swerve to the right and to ride along the edge of the road to avoid being struck. Voci told police the same car cut him off a second time once he reached the exit for Ridge Avenue and Lincoln Drive.
Franklin claims Voci called them “Black bitches” and screamed at them, “What are you trying to do, run me off the road? You can’t f—ing drive.” The women cursed back at him. Jasmyne, a graphic artist who asked that her last name not be used, said she made an obscene gesture.
As they waited at Lincoln Drive and Wissahickon Avenue, she said, the motorcyclist pulled up to them. "He parks his motorcycle perpendicular to Khasandra’s car, blocking her,” Jasmyne said.
According to the police report, Voci walked to the driver’s window, produced his District Attorney’s Office credential, said he was with law enforcement, and ordered them to wait for police.
The two women said they were terrified and never saw any ID.
“Before he can even do anything, I’m already reversing my car,” Franklin said. "I am already in the left lane to get around him. Jasmyne is saying, ‘Go, go, go!’ We’re scared.”
According to Franklin, Voci screamed, “'I’m a f—ing cop. I’ll get you hit with $1,000 worth of f—ing fines.' And I’m like, ‘What? What is going on?’ And I just sped off.”
Shortly after arriving at her Mount Airy home, she said marked police cars surrounded her 2011 Kia Soul. She also noticed that Voci had arrived, as well as an unmarked black car.
Around midnight, she and her friend slipped out a rear exit, got in a rideshare and went to an open-mic poetry slam night. When they returned around 2 a.m., police were still outside. Jasmyne left around 4:45 a.m. she said. Shortly afterward, a tow truck pulled up. Franklin ran out to try to prevent her car from being towed and was arrested. She was told the car was being taken because it had been involved in a homicide.
After Fisher — a former cop who once had been assigned to the District Attorney’s Office — learned what happened, he went to Franklin’s home and listened to her version of events. He then took her to recover her vehicle and to file a complaint with Internal Affairs.
The charges against Franklin have since been downgraded to reckless driving and reckless endangerment of another person.
Franklin’s problems aren’t over, though.
On Wednesday, she learned her bail had been revoked from another case in Montgomery County, stemming from a Jan. 18 motor vehicle accident in which she was charged with DUI, reckless driving and speeding. Franklin said she fell asleep while driving home from work and that alcohol hadn’t been a factor. Her bail hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9.
Voci has no ties to that case, but is expected to testify. Fisher plans to be there as well..
“To me, it’s just a messy situation getting messier because he won’t let it go," Fisher said.
"This man needs to be checked.”