Man Accused of Striking Woman with Car So Hard in Alleged Road Rage Killing That 'Clothes Flew Off' on Impact

The attorney for Ryan Sweatt, 36, tells PEOPLE his client was trying to get away from men who were trying to attack him when he struck Destini Decoff

<p>Gofundme</p> Destini Decoff


Destini Decoff

The Massachusetts man who is accused of striking a woman with his car in an alleged road rage attack is now charged with murder.

The charge stems from an incident on April 4, when Ryan Sweatt, 36, of Milford, who was driving a Honda Civic on Route 85 in Hopkinton near Cornell’s Pub at about 6 p.m., “became engaged in an apparent road rage incident” with another vehicle, according to an earlier press release from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Hopkinton Chief of Police Joseph Bennett.

Sweatt told police he was driving home when a car pulled in front of him and slammed on the brakes, court documents allege, WBZ-TV reports.

“At some point, some of the occupants of the other vehicle, including the victim, exited the car,” authorities said in the release.

Destini Decoff, 26, and four men allegedly surrounded Sweatt’s car and threatened him, police said, WBZ-TV reports.

Sweatt drove off, but then “made a U-turn at a high rate of speed and struck the victim in the roadway," authorities claim in the release.

Decoff was knocked “several feet in the air,” the prosecutor said in court on April 5, WBZ reports.

Brett Martin told WBZ-TV he ran out of Cornell’s Pub when he heard a commotion outside and saw Decoff just after she was struck.

"I saw her mid-air kind of coming down towards the street...her jacket must've been 20 feet away from her. However she got hit, those clothes flew off."

Sweatt was stopped shortly after by an officer who allegedly saw him race away from the scene, police said.

Sweatt allegedly got out of the car yelling, "They're trying to kill me,” police said.

Related: Woman Struck in Alleged Road Rage Incident Dies From Injuries

Sweatt pointed up the road where four people were standing near a woman on the ground, police said, WBZ-TV reports.

Decoff was rushed to a local hospital with life-threatening injuries.

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On April 5, Sweatt was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon causing serious bodily injury, operating to endanger and a marked lanes violation in connection with the incident, the release said.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Decoff died on April 6.

On April 29, Sweat was charged with murder. When Sweatt came to court on April 30, a fight broke out in the hallway of the courthouse between the families of Decoff and the suspect, WCVB reports.

Sweatt pleaded not guilty and was held without bail after he was arraigned, the Milford Daily News reports.

His attorney, Derenge Demissie, tells PEOPLE the incident was an accident and not an act of road rage.

"This was an accident that resulted when Ryan tried to get away from the group of people who came out of their car to attack him," Demissie says in a statement.

"Video evidence showed a number of people rushing to his car. He was able to maneuver away. He did not see the person who was struck. Apparently she did not get back in the car when the others took off," the statement added, further starting that Sweatt "stopped his car after the impacted and cooperated with the police."

"Ryan is a peaceful person who has always maintained a clean record with a long history of gainful employment. He was going home from work when the accident happened," the statement added.

Decoff's family and friends are devastated by her death. A GoFundMe was started to help defray funeral costs.

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