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Woman sentenced to nine years for running over good Samaritan with SUV

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jul 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-11 20:02:11-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — A woman who drove an SUV over a man after he confronted her for beating her younger sister in an apartment complex parking lot near the Lincoln Park neighborhood was sentenced Monday to nine years in state prison.

There were many tears in the courtroom as the victim, James Shank, recalled the August 2019 event. Shank was a neighbor to the defendant, Tantrina Spencer-Simmons.

Shank says his wife asked him to step in and help a little girl who was getting beaten with a belt. When he did, his life changed forever.

"We will all forever be changed because of your actions on one day in the heat of the moment," says Shank's daughter, Ashley Manuel. "I would like to say that we forgive you. But the truth is, my forgiveness doesn't erase your carelessness."

Three year later, Simmons was sentenced to nine years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon and hit and run with serious injury.

Deputy District Attorney Brian Erickson read aloud what Shank wanted to tell Simmons, "For you to commit on purpose such a heinous crime, sentencing me to a life of pain and misery, I hope the privilege of ever legally having a drivers license again will be withheld from you for the remainder of your life."

Prosecutors allege that the victim saw Spencer-Simmons striking the girl with a belt, told her to stop and took out his cell phone to call police.

The defendant responded by deliberately striking the man with her SUV, dragging him over 40 feet before completely him running over, according to Erickson. Spencer-Simmons drove off, but turned herself in later that day.

"My father has been through over 50 surgeries, been on life support for over a year and a half, and will now spend most of his life in wheelchair," says Manuel.

Shank is now paralyzed from the waist down, still re-learning how to walk after breaking his pelvis, arms, legs, and shattering his ribs. He also lost an extensive amount of flesh on his backside.

His wife who was a double amputee and spoke to ABC 10News after the incident has passed away.

Shank now needs full time care and is living his elderly parents out of state.

"You are responsible for completely shattering and devastating a family forever," cries Manuel. "And I hope that never leaves you."

After hearing testimony, Simmons got emotional. She wanted her family and the Shank's to know she is sorry, "I just want you all to know that I don't take anything, any of this lightly. I honestly do apologize."

There was a request for a restitution review that will be done in October.

City News Service contributed to this report.