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Deputy may be partly to blame for teen's death in auto accident

Police pursuits are tricky. With the proper authorization, a pursuit can prevent a tragedy from occurring. However, in some instances, they cause more devastation than they help, and many law enforcement officers are ordered to stop a pursuit because it is simply too dangerous. What happens, then, when a deputy fails to report a pursuit and also fails to report a fatal auto accident that followed?

This is the question that one Texas county is having to ask of one of its deputies. Reports indicate that he saw a vehicle speed past him in the opposite direction. He made a U-turn and gave chase. Sometime thereafter, the vehicle he was pursuing crashed. This does happen periodically, but ordinarily, the officer reported the pursuit and stopped at the scene to render aid.

According to reports, neither of those things happened in this instance. In fact, the Harris County deputy never reported the incident even after his shift. When the video footage from his dashboard camera was reviewed, it reportedly revealed that the deputy even turned off his sirens and lights and then drove right past the wreck. The driver of the car suffered critical injuries, and the 16-year-old passenger suffered fatal injuries in the impact.

The deputy has been fired and is under investigation, but that does not mean that the families of the victims cannot take civil action. There may be more than one party held accountable in this case, depending on the results of all investigations, both official and private. If the evidence supports that negligence led to the critical and fatal injuries suffered in this auto accident, a Texas court may award damages.

Source: abc30.com, "Texas deputy fired after not reporting pursuit prior to fatal crash; criminal investigation launched", Ted Oberg and Marla Carter, Aug. 23, 2017

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