Local media personality suing Shelby County, blames probation system for son’s death

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Media personality Thaddeus Matthews says it's the county's fault his son is dead.

Melvin Willies is accused of running over Thaddeus Matthews' son, Kenya Matthews, on Raines Road in June. Willies was arrested after he allegedly told police he'd had a few drinks before getting behind the wheel.

Now Thaddeus Matthews says Willies shouldn't have been driving at all. He says it's black and white.

According to a court order, Willies had a suspended license, and the judge ordered him to install an interlock system, a breathalyzer test he must pass before even turning the car on. However, Willies may not have followed that order, and it may have cost a life.

"Had Melvin Willies had an interlock on Thursday night June 15th, my son would not be dead," Thaddeus Matthews told WREG.

That's the basis of a lawsuit he's filed against Shelby County. He blames the county for not doing its part to make sure Willies had the court-mandated interlock system on his car.

"The Shelby County Department of Probations didn't handle their responsibility."

On March 24, a judge signed paperwork ordering Willies to install the mobile breathalyzer — an order that was supposed to be supervised.

Thaddeus Matthews say the system failed him.

"Part of your probation order is to have an interlock on your car so there is no way out."

He says he won't back down from holding them to the fine print since his son wasn't doing anything wrong — he was simply riding a bike to a store along Raines Road.

"He's 100 yards from the grocery store, and here comes this drunk — kills him, breaks his neck on impact, takes his life."

WREG reached out to the county for more information . They couldn't tell us if Willies had the interlock system on his car or if he was driving his car at all since his license was suspended at the time of the crash.

Matthews says that system must change and hold people accountable.

"If there are any loopholes in the law, they need to be covered."

He says he won't back down until it happens.

"I will become Melvin Willies and the DA's worst nightmare."

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