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Charlottesville police to remove same version of car that killed Heather Heyer from its fleet

Posted at 1:37 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 13:37:20-05

Two years ago, James Fields plowed through a crowd of counterprotesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. He killed a 32-year-old woman named Heather Heyer, injured dozens of others and put the entire nation on edge.

His weapon of choice: a gray 2010 Dodge Challenger.

Now, the Charlottesville Police Department has removed from service the last Dodge Challenger in its fleet, the department said in a news release on Thursday.

Flowers surround a photo of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car plowed into a crowd of people protesting against the white supremacist Unite the Right rally, August 13, 2017 in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The city will dispose of the vehicle before the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020, according to the release.

“This is clearly a reminder for many of the Summer of Hate and the attack, and we believe removing it from our fleet is in the best interests of the community,” City Manager Tarron Richardson said in a statement.

The muscle car, a gray 2017 model with similarities to the one Fields used, was purchased used for about $21,000 on January 19, 2018, about five months after the 2017 attack, though the funds were allocated before then, the department said.

The department’s Challenger was branded with a logo for the Special Olympics Torch Run, a campaign run by law enforcement professionals to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Though the vehicle was purchased before Richardson and Police Chief RaShall Brackney were hired, the two began reviewing the issue after receiving questions and feedback from the community and people on social media, the release said.

The weekly local newspaper C-VILLE also questioned why Charlottesville police were still driving the car that had become widely associated with the horrific events.

The perpetrator

Fields pleaded guilty in March to 29 federal hate crimes as part of an agreement that eliminated the death penalty as possible punishment, and received two life sentences in prison.

The two sentences will run consecutively, and he will serve without the possibility of parole.

James Fields

Before his federal sentencing in June, Fields told the judge he wanted to apologize.

“I apologize to my mother for putting her through all of this. Every day I think about my actions and how this could have gone differently. I’m sorry,” he said.