Blame the System for Failing to Stop Mariam Coulibaly From Killing Teens

Richecarde Dumay
Richecarde Dumay Miami-Dade County Public Schools / Luther Campbell
Richecarde Dumay was one of the kindest, most selfless teenagers on the Miami Edison Senior High practice field. When he wasn't playing soccer or kicking for the football team, the 17-year-old star athlete supported other Red Raider players. You would catch him handing out water bottles to the girls on the flag football team. His radiant smile lit up locker rooms.

But now Richecarde is dead. Ineffective Miami-Dade and Broward judges and prosecutors killed him. It was they who allowed 31-year-old stripper Mariam Coulibaly to barrel her black SUV into Richecarde and his Little Haiti FC soccer club teammates — brothers Gedeon and Lens Desir — shortly before dawn in North Miami this past Saturday. She should have been stopped long before she destroyed the lives of two families and sent an entire community into mourning.

The Miami Herald reported Wednesday that Coulibaly had more than 40 traffic infractions in Miami-Dade and Broward since 2008 for everything from careless driving to failing to stop at a red light to having an expired tag. In 2013, she rear-ended a Jeep Cherokee. A woman named Catherine Jean sued Coulibaly and won a judgment of more than $11,000. Coulibaly had a hard time paying. Courts allowed her to declare bankruptcy.

Coulibaly was charged twice with leaving the scene of an accident in a four-month span, according to an online search of Miami-Dade traffic court records. On April 22, 2015, she pleaded no contest in the first hit-and-run case. Judge Betty Capote-Erben assigned her 12 hours of traffic school and fined her $461. Three days later, Coulibaly was allegedly behind the wheel in another hit-and-run. This time, she got off scot-free. Prosecutors dismissed the charge August 25, 2015. The presiding judge was Fred Seraphin, who had access to Coulibaly's horrible driving record yet allowed Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle's prosecutors to drop the case.

Rundle and another judge, Andrew Hague, had a third chance to put Coulibaly behind bars July 13, 2015, when the stripper was busted for knowingly driving without a license, having an expired tag, and lacking proof of insurance. In October of the same year, Rundle dismissed the infractions. And Hague did nothing to stop it.

Seraphin, a former public defender appointed by Jeb Bush and then elected several times without opposition,  presided over the second hit-and-run case. Coulibaly, whose blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit after allegedly killing the young soccer players, had obviously been emboldened. From September 2015 to 2017, she received ten tickets: five for failing to stop at red lights and two for unknowingly driving with a suspended license. Yet a simple search of her record should have revealed there is no way Coulibaly didn't know she wasn't allowed to drive.

At some point, Capote-Ebren, Seraphin, Hague, and the other judges and hearing officers who handled Coulibaly's cases should have seen she had no regard for the law. They, along with Rundle, failed Richecarde and his two friends the same way the Broward school board and Broward Sheriff's Office failed the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre. Allowing Coulibaly in the driver's seat of any car is the same as permitting Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz to buy a gun. A car in Coulibaly's hands is a weapon of mass destruction. The people in positions of authority ignored all of the warning signs.

Yet rather than apologizing for inaction, Ed Griffith, a Rundle spokesman, issued the following statement yesterday: "There is no such thing as a DUI accident. Every DUI incident is a crime, an act undertaken by an individual who could have chosen not to drink and drive but instead decided to start the car and go." 
Authorities should have thrown Coulibaly in jail for contempt after her fifth traffic infraction. Instead, three kids paid the ultimate price for her — and law enforcement's — callous disregard of traffic laws and human life.
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Listen to Luke's podcast, The Luke Show.