Prosecutor: Pedestrian was ‘catapulted’ in January dragging death

Local News

Mark Blackwood (photo from Scott County Jail inmate listing.)

Pedestrian Eric Johnson was “catapulted” onto an SUV in a dragging-death crash in January.

That’s what First Assistant County Attorney Amy DeVine said in her opening arguments Monday in Scott County Court. DeVine said Johnson did not die upon impact.

Mark Blackwood, 64, of Davenport, faces felony charges of homicide by vehicle – reckless driving and leaving the scene of an accident – death. His bench trial before Judge Mark Fowler began Monday.

Blackwood “left Mr. Johnson on Fillmore Lane to die,” DeVine said.

The incident

Shortly after 7 p.m. Jan. 18, Davenport police responded to the area of the 2600 block of Fillmore Lane to an unresponsive man in the road, an arrest affidavit says.

Police say Blackwood was driving a 1999 Chevrolet Blazer when he hit Johnson, who was walking in the 1900 block of Washington Street. Johnson was carried on the hood/front of the vehicle for about 140 feet.

After the initial contact with the vehicle, Johnson fell from the hood and became tangled in the undercarriage of the Blazer.

Blackwood, police say, didn’t stop and dragged Johnson nearly 3,000 feet headed north on Washington Street, then east on Central Park Avenue and finally north on Fillmore Lane.

Johnson became dislodged from the Blazer in the 2600 block of Fillmore Lane, where Blackwood did not stop, but continued home, the affidavit says.

Blackwood, the affidavit says, “never reported this crash to police or medical personnel.” Johnson, who was dragged for seven blocks, was pronounced dead later that evening.

Blackwood was identified as the driver after law enforcement reviewed video from the area and through his own statements.

The Blazer was located at Blackwood’s residence the next day with damage from the incident.

“Did an accident occur? Yes,” said Douglas Scovil, Blackwood’s attorney. “Did my client know it was with a person? No.”

Blackwood went to the Circle Tap to pick up dinner for his family, said Scovil, who added Blackwood did stop.

Witnesses Monday included:

  • Kristopher Mayer, who has been an officer with Davenport Police Department for just under 21 years, testified the scene “was probably one of the biggest scenes I’ve worked on as far as the length and the distance of the scene itself.”
  • Medic EMS Paramedic Margaret Lobianco said she responded to an “unresponsive individual in the roadway.” Firefighters arrived before she did, and started CPR, she said. Emergency responders did get a pulse after the second chest decompression on Johnson, she said.
  • Davenport Police Officer Gavin Tigges testified he was working the night of the crash and responded to a report of a man down, then a possible gunshot wound. “In the street, I could see drag marks,” he said.
  • Alycia Fritz, civilian crime scene technician, photographed Johnson’s severely injured body. The photos were shown on a screen in the courtroom.  

The trial, which continued Monday afternoon, may last five days, according to court administrators and documents.

In a jury trial, a jury hears the case, and in a bench trial, a judge hears the case and makes the decisions.

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