Police are supposed to enforce traffic laws. But, a wrongful death lawsuit and law enforcement investigation involves a South Bend police officer who crashed his cruiser into a 22-year-old mother of two daughters on July 20. The police vehicle was traveling between 90 and 95 mph, did not have a siren activated and ran a red light.
The police officer was answering a call about a reckless driver. His cruiser swerved in and out of traffic.
Surveillance video recorded the accident. It showed the victim's car going into the intersection around 4:30 a.m. His vehicle crashed into the side of the victim's car.
Her family's lawyer said that he turned on his red light only seconds before the crash and that he braked only 0.3 seconds before the collision. The victim was returning home from work and had the green light.
The South Bend Police Department is still conducting an internal review. Its duty manual allows police to drive above a posted speed limit while driving in emergency mode. But, they must activate lights and sirens to provide an emergency warning. A siren may be disabled only if a call requires a silent response.
An emergency mode is permitted if a call involves a risk of injury, a felony crime in progress, pursuing a fleeing suspect, responding to a call to help other police or there is enough information to justify the decision. Police are also reviewing the actions of police in another cruiser.
A Grand Jury declined to indict the police officer on charges of reckless homicide. However, the family filed notice a of tort claim with the city notifying it that a civil lawsuit will be filed. In their wrongful death lawsuit, the victim's family will claim that the police officer's negligence caused her death in this fatal car crash.
Families who lose a loved one in a fatal accident may be entitled to compensation and damages. An attorney can help gather evidence of any negligence or reckless conduct that caused a fatality.