Victim’s Voice: Car crashes into home, residents upset with police’s handling of situation

BATON ROUGE — Waking up with the front end of a Dodge Challenger sharing a bed was definitely not the night envisioned by one teen.

However, that became her reality after the car crashed into her home in the Sherwood Forest subdivision Sunday night. The teen’s mother, Lisa Mencer, said that was only the beginning of their long night.

“What the hell is going on?”

“That night, I fell asleep with both Air Pods in and music at top volume, and it’s the only time in life that I’ve ever done that, and it will never happen again,” Mencer recalled. “There was a really loud noise, which made my husband jump up out of bed. I still know nothing at this point. My grandchildren then came into my room, and they touched me to wake me up and told me that my daughter was screaming, and they couldn’t get her to open her door.

“I immediately hopped out of bed, and I’m clueless,” she said. “I have no idea where my husband is at the moment. I’m just super confused. I run up to my daughter’s room and hear her screaming at the top of our lungs. She’s yelling, ‘Mom help me! help me!’ and I’m like, what the hell is going on?”

The family discovered that a car had crashed into their home, leaving a huge hole. Mencer said they contacted the Baton Rouge police, and two officers responded.

“They said this was intentional”

Mencer said the officers believed the crash was intentional.

“They said this is intentional,” she recalled. “Someone did this on purpose. Someone drove straight into this room.”

She said throughout the interaction with law enforcement, her family felt like they were being treated like criminals instead of victims.

“One of the officers kind of walked off, and then my husband walked off. I don’t remember why, I think he went to get something,” she said. “Then the officer said, ‘You can be honest with me. Are you having any type of extramarital affair?’

“I paused for just a second, and then I said no. And he says, ‘Any exes that might be upset?’ and I said no. ‘And he says, Well, what about your husband?’ I said no. And he said, ‘Well, I mean, this is intentional.'”

The car’s front grill was lying in front of the window, and that’s when Mencer said she and her husband were able to identify it as a 2022 Dodge Challenger that had crashed because of some of the stickers on the grill.

“We went and found witnesses”

After filing a police report, Mencer said one officer advised them to stay armed to protect their home because the entire front was wide open.

She said they remained armed in the front yard the entire night.

After the officer left, Mencer said her daughter noticed two girls who continuously walked in front of the home, and she approached them.

One of the girls told Mencer’s daughter that she had been in the Challenger riding with someone she called a friend before she hopped out.

“I called the police back. We went and found witnesses,” she said. “They (police) didn’t do anything. These girls, whom my daughter recognized walking down the street, were walking up and down the street when the police were here, too.”

She said when the police arrived, the young girls were gone. The officer told them to notify law enforcement if they returned.

“He goes over there. He gets the address off the house,” Mencer stated. “He says call me back when they come in. So now we’re responsible for watching the house and telling him when they return to the house. We found the witnesses. Now we have to do surveillance on the witnesses.”

‘We found the car’

Mencer’s husband left to go to the store, and he called his wife a couple of minutes later, telling her he had found the Challenger in someone’s yard less than a block away.

“All the way up our street in one direction are the bricks and debris from our house, the sheetrock, everything is in the middle of the street,” Mencer said. “The police drove through those bricks to come to our house, yet they continuously told us the people had to have exited from the other direction, not where the bricks are clearly being dragged away from the house.

“We followed the debris from our house less than a block away, made the first possible turn, and the car was in someone’s yard,” she added. “You could clearly see that the front of the car is destroyed and sitting under a streetlight.”

Suspect Identified

Mencer said police identified the owner and suspected car driver as Darius Smith.

Smith was booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Tuesday and charged with hit and run and aggravated criminal damage to property.

“Neither of us wants to leave the house”

Since the crash, Mencer said her teen daughter has had trouble sleeping.

“Until last night (Monday), I did not realize that she was refusing to sleep,” Mencer said. “That she absolutely would not go to sleep. And then last night, sheer sleep deprivation caused her to doze off, and every time she would doze off, she would wake up screaming at the top of her lungs.”

She added that neither she nor her husband had gotten much sleep since the crash. They have custody of three grandchildren, and she said it has been tough on everyone.

“Neither of us wants to leave the house,” she said. “We’re afraid of what would happen if we leave.”

“The way they treated us was embarrassing”

Mencer said they were upset with the way the police handled the situation.

“The way that they (police) treated us was embarrassing,” she said. “It was demoralizing. They treated us like we were criminals. Even when I contacted them and told them that I had the vehicle when the police officer came over there to the scene where I was, his first question to me was, ‘How did you find it?’ He made me feel like I needed to feel guilty.

“The information that we provided to them by doing their jobs for them wasn’t hard to obtain,” she continued. “We didn’t do anything that was hard. The information that we gave them almost jumped out at us. And it’s embarrassing that they’re being paid to protect the community when they victimize us just as much as Darius Smith did when he drove through our house into the room with our daughter.”

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