An Iowa woman has admitted to authorities that she intentionally hit a teenage girl with her car because she was “Mexican,” police said Friday.
Nicole Marie Poole Franklin, 42, was charged Thursday near Des Moines with attempted murder after allegedly running down a 14-year-old as she walked to Indian Hills Junior High School on Dec. 9 and then fleeing the scene, the Clive Police Department said. Franklin is being held at the Polk County Jail.
“Franklin told investigators that she ran the girl over because she was, in her words, ‘a Mexican,’” Clive Chief of Police Michael Venema said in a Friday press conference.“She went on to make a number of derogatory statements about Latinos to the investigators.”
Authorities said at 5 p.m., Franklin drove her 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee onto the sidewalk near the middle school, where the girl was walking “on the way to an activity.”
Franklin then “ran the girl over” before she allegedly fled the scene. Authorities eventually identified the woman after asking for the public’s help, reviewing surveillance video, and speaking to the victim, Venema said.
The girl, who has not been identified, suffered “numerous injuries” that were serious, authorities said. After spending several days at a hospital, she was able to return to school a week after the incident, a school representative said Friday.
About fifteen minutes later, Franklin was arrested at a Conoco gas station in West Des Moines after allegedly throwing items at an employee and calling several people by a racial slur, according to a criminal complaint obtained by The Des Moines Register.
Franklin was arrested and charged with assault, operating under the influence, theft and public intoxication, authorities said.
After identifying Franklin's vehicle, police interviewed her at the Polk County Jail on Thursday, where she being held for the gas-station assault.
During the interview, Venema said, “not only did Franklin admit to being the driver of the car that struck this girl, but also that she had done so intentionally.” Franklin then proceeded to admit the incident was racially fueled, he said.
“I want to say, in the strongest terms possible, that there is no place in our community—or any other—for this type of hatred and violence,” he said. “We are committed to stand by and support this family and work diligently with them to seek justice.”
The police chief declined to provide further details into Franklin’s motive or her police interview because “we still need to prosecute this case,” but stated the teen’s family was “surprised and shocked” to learn the woman “targeted their daughter and intentionally try to cause harm.”
“They were appropriately updated,” Venema said, adding he was also horrified to hear the hit-and-run was an “intentional act,” even after years of working in law enforcement.
It is not immediately known if Franklin and the teenage girl previously knew each other.