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November 6, 2019

Innocent passenger rendered quadriplegic as a result of an improper police pursuit

Police Pursuit results in injured passenger

Innocent passenger rendered quadriplegic as a result of an improper police pursuit seeks a new trial after pursuing officer admits to perjury and commits suicide

A young woman was rendered quadriplegic in a motor vehicle collision caused by negligent police pursuit of a vehicle in which she was riding as a passenger. She filed suit against the driver of the vehicle, the City of Seattle, and two city police officers involved in the pursuit. The City and its officers admitted, and the court ruled, that the injured woman was completely innocent and fault-free. The City and its officers further admitted that the question whether they were involved in a pursuit was the “crux” and “center piece” of her claim against them. However, they defended the lawsuit on grounds that no pursuit took place, denying the existence of a pursuit in pleadings, sworn declarations, pretrial testimony (deposition), answers to written questions under oath (discovery), argument, and trial testimony. The jury found that the City and its officers were not liable for the woman’s injuries and the trial court entered judgment in their favor. 

It was later learned that the lead pursuing officer committed suicide, apparently because of guilt about perjuring himself in the injured woman’s case when he denied that a pursuit took place. Before his death, he admitted to coworkers, supervisors and others about being pressured by the City’s representatives to perjure himself. He felt like he “betrayed the badge” and the oath that he took as a law enforcement officer. 

After discovering the officer’s admissions of perjury, the injured woman filed a motion seeking a new trial. The court ruled that the officer’s admissions of perjury were not admissible and denied the motion. On her behalf, The Holman Law Firm and Ahrend Law PLLC have sought direct review of this decision in the Washington Supreme Court. The Supreme Court will decide on December 3, 2019, whether to accept direct review.

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