Ala. (Legal Newsline) - The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that a woman
injured in a police chase where another person was killed cannot sue the
officers involved in the incident or the city that employs them.
The panel of nine
justices unanimously rejected an appeal filed by Bria Mines, which named Homewood
officers J.C. Clifton and Jason Davis as defendants.
According to the court's opinion, in December 2013, the officers were pursuing a vehicle driven by Bristinia Fuller in
which Mines was a passenger. Officers were
responding to a call of a shoplifting taking place at a Babies “R” US store
at the Wildwood Shopping Center when they commenced chase of the vehicle, which sped down the road,
running several red lights as it fled from the scene and turned into heavy
traffic on nearby Lake Shore Drive.
Fuller was killed
in the chase when her vehicle struck a light pole as the two officers, driving
separate patrol vehicles, continued to trail her speeding vehicle.
Mines was seriously injured in the crash,
and later filed suit against the officers alleging recklessness on their part
in conducting a high-speed chase in such a congested area. Over
time, the officers appealed to the state Supreme Court after a lower court judge refused to dismiss the claims against them and the
rendering their verdict, justices ruled evidence showed the officers did not
cause Mines' injuries and therefore can’t be considered liable for them. They
cited video of the incident retrieved from a dashboard camera, which showed
officers were still a fair distance away from Fuller at the time she crashed
her vehicle, resulting in Mines’ serious injuries.
video recording demonstrates that the officers were exercising discretion and
judgment during the pursuit of Fuller's vehicle," the court said, adding
that the officers and the city should be protected by laws that grant immunity
from such lawsuit filings.
opinion was written by Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stewart, who added “Officer Clifton and Officer Davis have established that they are
entitled to immunity as to Mines's claims against them in
both their official and individual capacities. Moreover, because Officer
Clifton and Officer Davis are entitled
to immunity, Homewood is also entitled to immunity.”