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Police pursuit of suspected drunk driver kills pedestrian

Earlier this month, a man crossing the street in San Marcos was struck and killed by a police car. The car accident occurred around 1:30 a.m. on a Tuesday night when a 29-year-old pedestrian on his way home from work stepped out of the center median and directly into the path of the police officer. The officer was in pursuit of a suspected drunk driver.

The tragedy initially sparked many mixed emotions, not the least of which was anger that the officer may have acted improperly. However, a police spokesperson said the officer had activated his lights and siren at the time of the tragic collision. There was no word on how fast the officer was travelling when he hit the man.

The officer's actions were apparently validated later in the week when surveillance footage from a nearby restaurant showed the man stepping into the street, not crossing at a pedestrian walkway.

Investigators in the accident will now evaluate three issues in order to determine the officer's culpability in the tragedy. Whether or not the officer was;

  1. Enforcing the law
  2. Acting reasonable while enforcing the law
  3. And, whether or not the pedestrian shared was partially responsible

The officer was severely emotionally traumatized and was given a leave of absence to deal with the aftermath of the tragic death. Relatives of the deceased are considering bringing a suit against the department, alleging that the officer was acting negligently when he struck the man.

This is a tragic accident and, if a suit is brought, a jury will have to decide whether the officer illustrated negligent actions that led to the man's death. If the suit is successful, the man's family may be entitled to damages including compensation for wrongful death.

Source: Nbc San Diego, "Surveillance Video Gives New View of Fatal Accident," Paul Krueger, Sept. 20, 2012

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