Gov. Mike Parson faces bipartisan scorn for reducing DWI sentence of ex-Chiefs coach

Mike Parson Governor of Missouri
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(Missouri Independent) – Missouri Gov. Mike Parson drew condemnation from across the political spectrum over the weekend after he reduced the sentence of former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid for a drunken driving crash that permanently injured a 5-year-old girl.

Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, was drunk in February 2021 when he crashed his truck into two vehicles on the side of an exit ramp along an interstate near the Chiefs’ practice facility. 

Six people were injured, including 5-year-old Ariel Young, who sustained a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma for 11 days. According to her family, Young continues to suffer memory loss and issues with speech and movement.

Reid pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison. 

But on Friday, with little explanation and without consulting with local prosecutors or the victims’ family, Parson commuted Britt Reid’s sentence — allowing him to serve under house arrest until October 2025. 

Parson’s decision drew immediate outrage.

“There simply can be no response that explains away the failure to notify victims of the offender,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said in a press release. She later added: “I simply say I am saddened by the self-serving political actions of the governor and the resulting harm that it brings to the system of justice.”

Tom Porto, the attorney for Young’s family, told the Daily Beast that the family “is disgusted, I am disgusted and I believe… that the majority of the people in the state of Missouri are disgusted by the governor’s actions.”

State Rep. Keri Ingle, a Lee’s Summit Democrat, posted on social media that she “really cannot imagine any justification for commuting a drunk driver who severely injured a 5-year-old.”

Criticism also came from Parson’s fellow Republicans. 

State Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, a Parkville Republican who chairs the Missouri Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, posted on social media that he “cannot imagine the pain this must cause to the family of the victim, an innocent 5-year-old girl whose life is forever changed. This is not justice.”

Luetkemeyer’s sentiment was echoed by state Sen. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, a Republican from Arnold running for Congress.

“This isn’t justice,” she wrote on social media.

A convicted drunk driver “should never have their sentence commuted,” state Rep. Adam Schwadron, a Republican from St. Charles who is running for secretary of state, posted on social media. “A convicted drunk driver that injured a child should never be considered to have their sentence commuted.”

Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the GOP frontrunner to replace Parson when he leaves office because of term limits this year, released a statement to the Kansas City Star saying the sentence reduction was “not a good look for the governor and not something I believe I would do.”

“Britt Reid’s reckless decision to drive drunk left Ariel Young with a lifelong traumatic brain injury,” Ashcroft told the Star, “and while the Reid family holds a special place in the hearts of Missourians and Kansas City Chiefs fans, that does not entitle them to special treatment. My heart goes out to the Young family.”

In her statement, Peters Baker noted that Parson refused to use his power to commute the sentences of Kevin Strickland and Lamar Johnson, who both served long prison sentences and were eventually exonerated and set free despite the governor declining to intervene.

“We are reminded that this governor did not use his political power to commute the sentence of Kevin Strickland and Lamar Johnson. He used his political power to free a man with status, privilege, and connections,” Peters Baker said. “Both Kevin and Lamar are freed today under the rule of law, but only after difficult battles to gain their freedom.”

Parson is a longtime Chiefs season ticket-holder holder who attended the Super Bowl this year and celebrated with the team at its victory parade. Reid’s sentencing reprieve was included among three commutations and 36 pardons announced late Friday afternoon by the governor’s office.

A spokesperson for the governor did not respond to a request for comment on the criticism.

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Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.