One person was killed in a Pomona car accident after the driver of a stolen car who was fleeing the police ran a red light and struck the victim’s vehicle. According to a news report in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, the fatal crash occurred at the intersection of Towne and La Verne avenues on July 29, 2012. Officials arrested Brian Vance Coleman, 33. Coleman was allegedly driving the stolen car that was being chased by a police vehicle. Coleman ran a red light at the intersection and struck the victim’s car. Coleman attempted to flee when police tried to make a traffic stop. It is not clear where the pursuit began. The car Coleman was driving was reported stolen in Rancho Cucamonga earlier that day.
I offer my deepest condolences to the family members and friends of this deceased driver. This grieving family will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Police Pursuit Statistics in California
According to a recent California Highway Patrol report on police chases, in 2010, police in California engaged in 5,024 high-speed chases. Of those, 1,508 resulted in collisions, injuring 766 people and killing 32. Of the people who were killed, 14 were either passengers in the cars being pursued or innocent bystanders. The CHP was itself involved in about 1,600 pursuits in 2010, resulting in 226 injuries and 13 deaths, according to the agency’s report.
In this particular case, the driver was not only driving a stolen vehicle, but he also ran a red light while fleeing the police and struck the victim’s vehicle causing fatal injuries. In such cases, the at-fault motorist can be held criminally and civilly liable. In addition, it would be a good idea for the victim’s family to talk to an experienced Los Angeles personal injury lawyer who can look into whether the police officers involved followed proper procedures during the pursuit.
California law provides immunity to police departments that have adopted a “vehicle pursuit policy.” While it is important that criminals are apprehended, police officers have a responsibility to balance that with the safety of other drivers and pedestrians on the roadway. Families of deceased victims would be well advised to get a knowledgeable injury lawyer on their side and ensure that their legal rights and best interests are protected. Please remember that any personal injury or wrongful death claim against a governmental agency must be filed within 180 days of the incident.