Archive for October, 2012

Hartford Police Officer Arrested After Fatal Crash

A police officer is facing criminal charges, following a Hartford car accident that resulted in the death of an innocent motorist.

Our Hartford personal injury lawyers understand that the officer likely did not intend to cause harm as he raced to assist his fellow officers in pursuit of an armed suspect. However, police officers are not above the law, which he appears to have violated, as well as departmental policy on pursuits.

The criminal case will be separate from any civil action the victim’s family may take against either the officer or the department.

What’s important to understand is that even if an individual is not convicted in criminal court, he or she can still be held liable in civil court, as the standard of proof is lower. One high profile example of this is former pro-footballer OJ Simpson, who was accused, tried and acquitted in criminal court for the murder of his ex-wife and her male friend. However, he was later found liable for wrongful death following a civil trial. While individual police officers are granted immunity for actions taken during the course of their jobs, the department and/or municipality may be held accountable.

In this case, the 32-year-old Hartford officer has been charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, failure to obey a traffic control signal and traveling unreasonably fast.

According to news reports, the crash happened last July around 1 a.m., when the officer was racing to help his fellow officers stop an armed individual. He was reportedly traveling at nearly 60 miles per hour when he blew through a red light. Just as this happened, a vehicle driven by a 50-year-old man crossed into the intersection with the right-of-way. He was struck by the officer, transported the hospital and died a week later of the injuries he sustained.

Following the crash, the officer told investigators he had slowed down at the intersection in order to ensure there were no cars coming. However, witnesses refuted those statements. They said they never saw the officer brake.

Additionally, an internal police analysis of the scene indicated that the cruiser had been operating at full throttle with increasing speed in the seconds before the crash. His emergency lights and sirens were only activated about 100 to 135 feet prior to approaching the intersection.

In every state, there are statutes that control the guidelines for the operation of emergency vehicles, such as police cars. Those generally include provisions for emergency personnel to exercise “due regard” for the safety of all persons. The fact that a person has a badge or is behind the wheel of a cruiser does not give him or her the authority to drive recklessly or to disregard the safety of others.

In approaching a case such as this, our Hartford car accident lawyers would begin by asking some of the following questions:

  • Did the department have a restrictive pursuit policy?
  • Was the pursuit negligently initiated?
  • Should the pursuit have been terminated earlier?

These are elements that could serve to bolster claims of negligence on the part of the department and the officer.

At the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, we have handled cases like the one described above for many years. We know how a serious injury can have a devastating impact that may result in significant losses. Our dedicated attorneys aggressively pursue compensation for clients. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident, or a loved one was killed due to someone’s reckless behavior, let an experienced Connecticut personal injury lawyer protect your rights and fight for you.

Contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone & Morelli, by calling  1-800-WIN-WIN-1 or at 100 Farmington Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105.