Blog of Charles Bryan Alred
Federal Appeals Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against OK Police Officer Over 2015 Utility Vehicle Accident
Posted on April 15, 2019
In movies and television, police chases make for exciting action sequences.
However, in real life, it is a dangerous, life-threatening activity. Indeed, people who think they can “outrun” the cops often find themselves seriously injured or killed in the pursuit. On March 19, 2019, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Court dismisses lawsuit against OK police officer; brought by two men who were seriously injured in a November 2015 chase with a Webber Falls, Oklahoma, police officer. The men, Kyle Lindsey and Zayne Mann, were riding in a small utility task vehicle (UTV) designed strictly for off-road use.
Despite this, Lindsey was driving the vehicle on a public roadway.
The officer, Brandon Hyler, saw the UTV “roll through a stop sign,” according to court records. He then tried to initiate a traffic stop. Lindsey refused to stop and proceeded towards a nearby highway overpass. Hyler later discovered the UTV rolled over on the side of the road. Lindsey and Mann later sued Hyler and several other parties, including the City of Webber Falls. Alleging the officer used “excessive force” in the chase. More precisely, the two men alleged Hyler’s police vehicle made “intentional contact” with their UTV, which in turn caused it to roll over.
A federal district court, and later the Tenth Circuit, rejected this claim.
Tenth Circuit Chief Judge Timothy M. Tymkovich, writing for a unanimous three-judge panel, noted that Lindsey and Mann failed to present any evidence of “actual physical contact” between their UTV and Hyler’s police vehicle. “Let alone any intentional contact.” Additionally, Judge Tymkovich said there was nothing inherently outrageous about Hyler’s conduct. The officer “confronted a not-unfamiliar scenario” in Lindsey’s “unexplained flight from a traffic stop.” He acted =reasonably under the circumstances. This was not a scenario were the officer “acted with deliberate indifference” to public safety.
Tulsa, OK car accident attorney Charles Bryan Alred noted that police officers and municipalities are not above the law when it comes to causing traffic accidents.
“If a police officer runs a red light and plows into a minivan, the city is liable just like any other employer for its employee’s negligence. But when you allege, as the plaintiffs in the Webber Falls case did, that a police officer used ‘excessive force’ in pursuing a suspect, you need to present the court with more than just your word the officer acted unreasonably.”
Alred added that trying to avoid a traffic ticket by speeding away is never the right thing to do.
“If you think you have been unfairly cited for a traffic violation, your best option is to call a lawyer and fight it in court. Getting into a police chase is not only illegal, it also puts other drivers and pedestrians at risk. And if you end up seriously injuring someone else, you will almost certainly face a personal injury lawsuit from the victims or their families.”