Supreme Court ruling could have affect on Chaffee police chase law suit
By: CJ Cassidy
By: CJ Cassidy
On Monday, the US Supreme Court gave police officers protection from lawsuits that result from high-speed car chases.
The court ruled officers do not have to end a chase when they have reasonable expectations other people could be hurt. It also said officers should take measures to stop the car without putting themselves at risk of civil rights lawsuits.
Several months ago, a police chase in Chaffee that ended in two deaths created a lot of controversy - so how is this supreme court ruling going to affect that?
Experts say, that's really up to the courts,but the passengers in the vehicle that was being chased hope the lawsuits they have filed are not subjected to the new standard. "I don't want to talk about the case," Bettina Ott of Chaffee says.
But forgetting about the deadly car crash that began in Chaffee, and ended close to Whitewater last September, is an entirely different matter for Ott.
The crash left her a partial quadriplegic, killed her boyfriend and friend, and left another friend in a coma. "I'm a result of a high speed chase and all we did was run a stop sign," Ott says sadly.
The chase reached speeds close to 100 miles per hour. The officer driving the vehicle reported the driver of the car making rude hand gestures and throwing what appeared to be beer cans out of the vehicle.
Bettina Ott agrees that happened, but hopes the new Supreme Court ruling doesn't have a bearing on her case. She filed a lawsuit against the City of Chaffee seeking damages for her injuries. "If I had the money to go to St. Louis three times a week and get electro shock therapy the Doctor told me he could have me being a paraplegic within a month and a half," Ott says.
But Cape Girardeau County Prosecutor Morley Swingle says the new ruling could have a bearing on any case involving high speed chases, down the road. "It clarified the law that it's ok to use deadly force in fleeing car situation. It makes it easier for law enforcement to not face repercussions when there has been a tragedy where someone was in a high speed chase - as long as they can document the driver was presenting a risk to the public by the way person was driving," he explains.
"If we would have robbed a bank or broken somebody's house or hurt somebody, I would understand. We just ran a stop sign there weren't even cars coming, and I don't think there should have been a high speed chase," Ott maintains.
Heartland News was not able to get in touch with the attorney representing the City of Chaffee, but Chaffee police say they now have installed video cameras in all their cars.