The debate is whether Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer Marcus Kilpatrick had his lights and sirens on when he ran his police cruiser into a truck driven by 86-year-old Matthew Brice Ogden Jr. in January. According to a report, Ogden turned his truck left into the path of the police cruiser in the middle of the day.
Ogden was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the truck and died at the scene. The officer suffered minor injuries in the Jacksonville car accident.
Now we are beginning to learn more about the auto accident in Florida. While the siren and lights issue is unresolved (witnesses say they didn’t see or hear them), Officer Kilpatrick was traveling 98 mph in a 40 mph zone through a residential area that included a school. In the middle of the day anyone could have found themselves in his path with absolutely no notice. Imagine a school bus filled with kids, or a soccer mom with youngsters in the back.
This is not to denigrate the loss of one life, this time an 86-year-old man. Our condolences go out to his family. The loss is particularly sharp when the Florida Highway Patrol tells us that Kilpatrick was trying to catch up with someone to check its tinted windows.
“It’s appalling,” says Ogden’s stepson, Douglas Berreth. He tells Channel 4, Jacksonville that “I feel that it created a death and it should not have happened in that manner and I do not believe total safety was the concern when the officer was in pursuit.”
Safety first is the motto of law enforcement. This time it failed that mission.
The advocacy group and website PursuitWatch.org, was formed after John Phillips’ sister was killed in 2001 in Orlando by a suspect engaged in a police chase. The group supports a common sense policy of pursuits only in cases where violent criminals are involved and is responsible in part for changing the high–speed or “hot” pursuit policy in the Orlando area.
Orlando officers will not give chase because of a traffic violation, nor will they in St. Johns County. Duval and Nassau County leave the decision up to the officer. What will it take before Duval imposes a common sense policy that follows the mandate of law enforcement – safety first.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to a car accident, please contact the skilled Florida car accident lawyers at Farah & Farah for a free consultation at 1-800-533-3555.