Watch: Did Tony Stewart intentionally hit Kevin Ward Jr. [Graphic Video and Language]
It’s not an easy video to look at, but thousands of NASCAR fans will be debating this for the foreseeable.
Did NASCAR driver Tony Stewart intentionally hit Kevin Ward Jr. when the latter gestured toward Stewart after Stewart supposedly caused Ward to spin out this past Saturday night at Canandaigua in upstate New York?
Once Ward is out of his car, he’s standing on the track gesturing to Stewart who seemingly swerved to either brush Ward or intentionally knock him down.
Either way, there’s an investigation and charges are being mulled against Stewart.
Were I a betting man, without being able to get into the head of Stewart, I’d say he meant the gesture as a brush back – sort of like the type that pitchers use in baseball to brush a batter away from the plate.
Sometimes the pitch goes awry, and it hits the batter square in the head.
Unless, of course, you’re someone considered to be a “head-hunter” and purposely aim for an opposing batters head.
An angry young driver named Kevin Ward Jr. got out of his car after a dust-up with NASCAR veteran Tony Stewart and walked to the middle of the dark, muddy track in a black firesuit, angrily gesturing.
Stewart passed by and with his rear wheel clipped Ward, who was later pronounced dead by the time he got to the hospital.
"At this very moment, there are no facts in hand that would substantiate or support criminal charge or indicate criminal intent on the part of any individual," Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said on Sunday.
Officials have interviewed Stewart twice since Ward died, and said simply the driver was "visibly shaken."
Despite all that, Stewart may not be out of the legal woods yet, CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford told "CBS This Morning."
"They're going to look at all possibilities here," Ford said. "There could be some type of charges out of here that don't focus on intent."
In other words, Stewart might have not meant it, but there is still the possibility of charges like criminally negligent homicide if prosecutors can prove Stewart was "ignoring obvious risk," Ford said.
It's not unusual for Stewart to "bug out" during a race - as that is part of his M.O. - and there's the possibility that will be taken into account if charges are to be filed.
All in all, I don’t feel Stewart meant to hit Ward, but if brushing aside another driver is part of the game, with the result being the death of the intended victim; then it’s not out of the question that charges will be filed against Stewart.