Teens charged in fatal Detroit drag racing crash

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Two teens have been charged with second-degree murder in connection with a June drag racing crash in Detroit that left two other teenagers dead, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office announced Friday. 

Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy on July 21 charged Shanaya Latrice Copeland, of Detroit, and Zaria Armonie Hughes, of Oak Park, both 17, in the June 27 crash that killed two young Detroit women, ages 17 and 18. Prosecutors contend the teens were intoxicated and speeding when the crash occurred. 

Under Michigan law, Copeland and Hughes are adults. The pair were not in custody at the time they were charged. 

“Since March of 2020, when the pandemic hit Michigan hard, we have reviewed or are in the process of reviewing fatal car crashes where the driver is alleged to be intoxicated, speeding and drag racing. We have been sounding the alarm on this since then," Worthy said in a statement. "When a person drag races, or otherwise flagrantly disregards the rules of the road, people can lose their lives. So don’t do it, please. It is that simple."

Shanaya Latrice Copeland, 17, of Detroit, has been charged with second-degree murder, reckless driving and other offenses in connection with a fatal June 27 drag racing crash.

Prosecutors allege Copeland and Hughes were racing each other on eastbound Joy Road in Detroit around 2:12 a.m. June 27. Copeland had three female passengers in her Ford Fusion and Hughes had one female passenger in her Chrysler 200. 

Hughes, prosecutors said, lost control of her vehicle, striking Copeland’s vehicle and forcing both cars to leave the roadway, and hit trees in the median. Passengers in both vehicles were transported by medics to local hospitals.

 Copeland suffered minor scrapes and bruises in the crash. Her front seat passenger, 17, of Detroit, sustained serious injuries to her right hip, tail bone and lungs, as well as cuts and bruises. The rear passenger on the driver’s side of Copeland's car, also a 17-year-old from Detroit, was pronounced dead at a local hospital. Another teen, an 18-year-old Detroit resident, seated on the rear passenger side, also was pronounced dead at the hospital. 

Hughes suffered a broken jaw, a broken left leg and a broken right ankle. Her front seat passenger 17, of Detroit, suffered injuries to her liver, and upper lip, as well as cuts and bruises, the prosecutor's office said. 

Copeland and Hughes are charged with two counts of second-degree murder, two counts of reckless driving causing death, operating while intoxicated, drag racing and other related charges.

Copeland was arraigned Aug. 14 and was placed on home confinement. A probable cause conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Sept. 16 before 36th District Court Judge Kenneth King.

Hughes has been recuperating from injuries she suffered in the crash and arrangements will be made by the Detroit Police for her arraignment in 36th District Court.