Can I Sue the Police After a Fatal Chase in California?
Many police departments in California are very quick to begin chasing suspects. Sometimes these actions are justified – especially when the suspect poses a danger to the general public. But what happens when innocent motorists get caught up in the mayhem and suffer injuries? What happens when innocent pedestrians are struck and killed due to police chases that get out of hand? Although this might seem like a rare occurrence, innocent people are injured in police chases all the time in California. In just the past few weeks and months, there have been a number of injuries and deaths in relation to police chases. But can you sue the police if you were injured in one of these risky, dangerous pursuits?
Numerous Injured Victims After Car Chase Gone Wrong
On October 20, it was reported that at least four people were injured after a police pursuit went wrong – including one child and one police officer. The accident occurred in Ontario when police conducted a traffic stop after becoming suspicious of a potentially stolen vehicle. Before the suspect could be apprehended, he sped away with three passengers in his vehicle. During the ensuing car chase, the suspect tried to lose the police by throwing objects at them – including a bicycle.
Eventually, the suspect became so belligerent that he made a U-turn in an attempt to ram police cars on his tail. Tragically, he ended up colliding with innocent motorists instead. In the end, two adults and one child were hospitalized, while an officer was treated for minor injuries. What would have happened if the police had chased the suspect in a less threatening manner? Would this incident still have ended with so many injuries? There is no way to be sure.
Deadly Crash After Oakland Police Chase
On October 17, it was reported that a police chase in Oakland had ended in a deadly crash. It all began when a 23-year-old suspect was involved in a hit-and-run crash. Although he tried to flee the scene of the accident, police responded quickly and were hot on his heels. However, the pursuit quickly got out of hand – with the suspect eventually crashing into a pickup truck. The driver of the pickup truck was instantly killed, while the suspect was arrested.
Would this crash have been fatal if the police had acted in a less threatening manner toward the suspect? Again, there is no way to be sure. But think of it this way: If the police had not pursued the suspect, the victim would still be alive. That being said, the Oakland Police were quick to point out that the chase had been authorized by the command structure.
Suspect Killed in Hayward After Car Chase
On October 25, it was reported that a suspect had been shot and killed after a car chase in Hayward. The incident began with a combination of carjacking and domestic abuse on the part of the suspect. He allegedly visited an ex-girlfriend’s house, was barred from entry, and proceeded to fire several rounds from a handgun into the building. He then escaped in his vehicle, at which point the officers began their pursuit. The suspect’s vehicle was eventually disabled by a PIT maneuver, but not before an officer’s leg had become pinned between a police vehicle and the suspect’s car.
With his car disabled, the suspect fled on foot and was pursued. He then attempted a carjacking to liberate a new vehicle. Seeing that the suspect was still armed and an innocent member of the public was in danger of being shot, the officers in pursuit decided to fire upon the suspect, hitting him several times. The suspect was then transported to a nearby hospital, at which point he was pronounced dead.
Victim “Dragged for Miles” By His Carjacker as Police Refused to Call Off Chase
On October 28, it was reported that the family of a 63-year-old victim was seeking justice against the LAPD, claiming that they should have called off a pursuit that was obviously posing a serious danger to their loved one. On October 13th, officers were pursuing a suspect who had just carried out a carjacking. The 63-year-old victim was unable to undo his seatbelt before the carjacker pushed him out of the vehicle while it was still moving. This caused the victim to become entangled and trapped underneath the vehicle. For the rest of the pursuit, the victim was dragged underneath the vehicle, causing his death. The police did not stop the pursuit, which only came to an end when the vehicle flipped over.
The family later opined that while the suspect was responsible for their loved one’s death, the police could have acted in a more professional manner. The victim’s daughter stated:
“I do hold the man that killed my father responsible, but the operation and the way they attempted to apprehend that man was negligent.”
Another family member agreed, saying that the police “should have called off the chase.” It is not clear whether the family members plan to sue the police department, but they do say that they want justice. The issue is that many police departments and individual officers are shielded from liability by something called qualified immunity.
Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Accident Attorney in California?
If you have been searching for an experienced, qualified accident attorney in California, look no further than Mary Alexander & Associates, P.C. Over the years, we have helped numerous accident victims pursue compensation for their injuries. If you have lost a loved one in a crash, we can also help you pursue a wrongful death lawsuit. In any case, you deserve the right to strive for justice if you have been harmed by a police chase. A settlement can help you pay for medical expenses, missed wages, emotional distress, and much more. The statute of limitations can prevent you from suing if you wait too long, so book your consultation today to get started.