El Paso Police Department Accident Reports

El Paso Police Department Accident Reports

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Two El Paso police officers involved in a 2016 vehicle chase failed to follow department policy or accurately assess the danger to innocent bystanders before launching a high-speed pursuit on Stanton Street that resulted in the death of a pedestrian, a jury found last week.

El Paso Police Department Accident Reports

The El Paso City Council on Tuesday voted to appeal a decision rather than pay more than $300,000 to the family of 52-year-old Annette Martinez, who died after being hit by a car pursued by police.

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“The jury found that the officers and the department were negligent when they violated their rules and failed to consider the risk to the community of the high-speed chase on Stanton Street,” said Lynn Coyle, an attorney representing the family in the lawsuit.

El Paso city officials said they could not comment on the lawsuit. All questions were referred to Tuesday’s meeting, where the council voted to hire an outside firm to handle the appeal.

The city has twice tried to dismiss the case because police officers and state employees are immune from civil lawsuits when conducting official government business. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in early April that the officers and the city could be sued.

“(Officers) did not understand the risk of a high-speed chase; and the officers knew the suspects’ addresses and could have arrested them later or arrested them during the burglary,” Eighth District Court Judge Lisa Soto wrote, allowing the trial to proceed.

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The district court and appeals court’s decision to accept the lawsuit is significant because federal and state law exempts police and state employees from civil lawsuits while acting in their official capacity. .

Coyle also said the court’s ruling should force the city’s police department to tighten vehicle enforcement rules. The policy, which takes effect in December 2021, says a vehicle must pose a clear and immediate threat to warrant a search.

According to a tracker compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union, vehicle pursuit policies are a hot topic in El Paso, with 23 vehicle trips linked to border patrol in 2021.

Emergency workers disperse a Chevrolet Tahoe at the scene of a fatal crash involving the U.S. Border Patrol on July 27, 2022 in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. (Highlights by Corey Boudreau/El Paso)

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In an effort to curb the increase in operations and deaths, the Border Patrol issued a new policy in January that prohibits agents from searching a vehicle after the vehicle fails to stop at a checkpoint or attempts to yield to an agent. drag and drop. Instead, under the new federal policy, border patrol agents must consider the seriousness of the crime and any threat the subjects may pose.

The federal policy now matches that of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office and the El Paso Police Department. According to previous DPS statements, the Texas Department of Public Safety’s vehicle search policy is at the discretion of the officer.

The Sheriff’s Office search policy specifies four elements, all of which must be present for a deputy to commandeer a vehicle: probable cause to commit a crime of violence, a clear and immediate threat to public safety, and the immediate need to make an arrest outweighs necessity. harassment and intimidation with the deputy’s permission to use his car’s emergency rescue equipment.

On March 4, 2016, El Paso police officers evacuated a home on Robinson Street in Kern Place because they suspected burglars were targeting the area. They watched the house for 12 minutes. Officers saw the two robbers leave the home and chose not to make an arrest, according to police.

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Instead, police officers began following the car driven by the two suspected thieves. As the suspects began speeding down Stanton Street, an undercover officer in an unknown vehicle with no lights or siren began a high-speed pursuit. Another officer in a marked police car joined the chase.

At times, the officer in the unmarked vehicle drove more than 60 mph in a 30 mph zone on Stanton Street, according to evidence presented at trial. The designated vehicle was traveling at a speed of 71 mph in this area.

Police say 17-year-old Aaron Rocho, the driver who tried to flee police during the pursuit, rear-ended a 2003 Hyundai Elantra and then hit a 2009 Ford Fusion that was stopped at a red light.

Annette Martinez, her daughter and 6-month-old son were in the Fusion when it collided with another vehicle, a Buick, after the crash, according to police reports and affidavits. The Buick then hit another vehicle, and three seconds later, an officer in an undercover car hit the Hyundai. Martinez was the only one seriously injured. He later died from injuries sustained in the accident.

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Rocho was arrested and charged with murder. In 2018, he was sentenced to 35 years in prison. Another suspect is a teenager who was in the car with Rocho.

Disclosure: Lynn Coyle, who represents the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, is a financial supporter of El Paso Matters. Financial support plays no role in El Paso Matters’ journalism. Coyle also filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit against El Paso Matters CEO Robert Moore against the federal government.

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Jury Finds EPPD Officers Violated Search Policy During Fatal Chase

Two El Paso police officers involved in a 2016 car chase failed to follow department policy or accurately assess the danger to innocent pedestrians before initiating a high-speed chase on Stanton Street, a jury found last week .

On Tuesday, El- The Paso City Council voted to appeal the verdict rather than pay more than $300,000 to the family of 52-year-old Annette Martinez, who died after being hit by a car during a police pursuit.

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“The jury found that the officers and the department violated their policy saying he was reckless and did not consider the high-speed chase on Stanton Street to be a danger to the community,” said attorney’s spokeswoman Lynn Coyle. The family. is in court.

El Paso city officials said they could not comment on the lawsuit. All questions were referred to Tuesday’s meeting, where the council voted to hire an outside firm to handle the complaint.

The city has tried twice to dismiss the case because police officers and state employees are exempt from civil lawsuits. Litigation When they perform official public service, they engage in litigation. The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in early April that the officers and the city could be sued.

“(Officers) failed to assess the risk of a high speed pursuit; and the officers knew the suspects’ addresses and could have arrested them later or arrested them during the burglary,” Eighth District Court Judge Lisa Soto wrote, allowing the trial to proceed.

The decision by the district court and the appeals court to allow the lawsuit to proceed is significant because federal and state law grant police officers and officers immunity from civil lawsuits while the officers are on the job. within their state duties. . The policy, which goes into effect in December 2021, says there must be a clear and immediate threat from the vehicle to justify the trade.

The vehicle trade policy has been debated in El Paso for 23 years. According to tracker powered by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The United States in Santa Teresa. Emergency workers extricate a Chevrolet Tahoe at the scene of a deadly Border Patrol pursuit on July 27, 2022, in New Mexico. (Cor

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