Two elderly men died on Jacksonville roads recently when they were hit by speeding city vehicles in two separate auto accidents in Florida. Now criminal charges will be filed against a Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer and a Jacksonville Fire Rescue district chief for their roles in the separate incidents, according to a report.
Last January, 86-year-old Matthew Ogden Jr. was hit broadside by a JSO police car driven by Officer Marcus Kilpatrick. He was reported to be chasing a motorist with tinted windows and had attained speeds of up to 100 mph.
Kilpatrick is facing culpable negligence charges as well as charges that he lied during an investigation.
In the other car crash in Jacksonville, District Fire Chief Adrian Johnson is facing charges of culpable negligence after a November crash with a car driven by Howard Corrigan, 75. In that case too, police say Johnson did not have a siren on.
These are misdemeanor charges and while they can carry a jail time of up to one year, the State Attorney’s Office is saying that incarceration may not be appropriate in these cases.
With at least 400 estimated deaths from police collisions across the U.S. (and some say that might be double), Voices Insisting on Pursuit Safety, and the Orlando based advocacy group, Pursuit Watch, says enough is enough.
John Phillips of Orlando lost his 20-year-old sister Sarah when a cruiser hit her car traveling 70 mph. Phillips, now behind Pursuit Watch, has helped Orange County develop one of the most responsible and restrictive pursuit policies in the nation which sometimes means there is no chase, unless a felony has been committed. Its adoption follows a similarly restrictive policy by the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in the fall of 2003.
The Voices group was formed after Candy Priano lost her daughter Kristie, who was killed in the back of the family minivan on the way to her high school basketball game by a police car in pursuit.
A Florida wrongful death lawsuit is not going to bring back these innocent people, who were hit by those charged with protecting the public. It may however deter police from acting recklessly and remind them that their job isn’t to catch a bad guy, but to protect the public.
As personal injury attorneys in Florida at Farah and Farah, we hope that Jacksonville can adopt a more sane pursuit policy and soon before we have any more victims of those who are supposed to be held to a higher standard of public safety.