People in San Diego may have heard about a recent controversial court ruling that set a former police officer, who was responsible for causing a car accident that resulted in the death of a 20-year-old in 2011, free on bail. The former officer, a 53-year-old woman, allegedly slammed her vehicle into the back of the victim’s car, sending the man’s car spinning out of control and ultimately over a steep embankment. After tumbling end-over-end down a 350-foot hill, two passengers in the victim’s vehicle were able to escape by kicking out the back windows and scrambling up the hill for help. The driver, though, was unable to be saved and died from his injuries. After an investigation, police found the officer had been driving at over 90 miles-per-hour at the time of the crash, and had a blood alcohol content of .14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit in California.
As an ex-cop, the woman should have known what horrible tragedies can occur when people under the influence get behind the wheel. In fact, as a law enforcement officer she frequently investigated drunk driving accidents, so this makes her decision to drive drunk even more illogical.
She was originally convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to a prison term of nine years, however, due to a courtroom error the woman was able to get her conviction overturned. Naturally the family of the victim is outraged.
Regardless of what happens in the criminal justice side of things, the family of the victim could be well-served to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the woman. Unlike criminal trials, a civil suit need only be proved by a preponderance of the evidence, not beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the victim’s family may be able to hold the woman accountable for her deadly actions and may be eligible to receive substantial monetary awards for the loss of their loved one.
Source: UT San Diego, “New trial for ex-cop convicted in fatal crash,” Teri Figueroa, Oct. 13, 2014