Cover Story: In Officer-Involved Crashes, Is It Ever The Cops' Fault?

Categories: Cover Story

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In 2009, a Houston police officer driving 60 miles per hour on a residential road at night, with no lights or sirens, slammed into a car carrying 54-year-old Mattie Etubom, who suffered severe injuries.

In 2010, a Houston police officer driving 84 miles per hour on a residential road at night, with no lights or sirens, slammed into a car carrying distinguished Baylor College of Medicine scientist Estela Medrano, killing her.

Etubom, and Medrano's husband, sued. City attorneys vigorously defended both cases, saying the officers were following both departmental policy and state law. But then, seemingly without reason, the city settled the Medrano matter. This caused Etubom's attorney to take a closer look at that case, and found that the city had turned over evidence that it withheld in his case. This was especially troubling, given that Houston police had literally blown up the car that should have been preserved for evidence in Etubom's case.

Both cases allowed a rare look into how city attorneys deny liability in officer-involved crashes, how HPD policies are interpreted, and how such accidents are investigated.

What drivers in Houston need to know is this: based on these cases, officers responding to non-emergency calls are allowed to "run silent" at any speed, on any street, at any time, and woe to the person whose path they cross.

The lawsuits examined in this week's cover story, "Police Protection," show that, sometimes, the city is more interested in protecting and serving its own, rather than the public.

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Houston City Hall

900 Bagby, Houston, TX

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4 comments
DemonSmokr
DemonSmokr

This just shows how corrupt our police department is. HPD is notorious for corruption. It is just down right wrong for these people to suffer because the cops are allowed to drive insanely fast through residential roads with no sirens or flashing lights. 


Police officers are supposed to lead by example, and should be held to a higher standard. Its not about risking lives, that is their choice. They take the job knowing the dangers, which I give respect for, but that should not give them special privileges and be allowed to break laws they are enforcing. Too many cops take the job for granted, abuse their power, and do not set good examples. 


HPD for pay for these accidents. The lack of accountability with our cops is just immoral.  

wcvemail
wcvemail

If you ever dare question any LEO or dept. for any reason, then you obviously want the terrorists to win. And the next time you need help, try calling a journalist and see how much good that does. And my husband/father/brother is a cop and puts his life on the line every day for you ungrateful wretches, so how dare you.

Did I miss any?

Frogger2000
Frogger2000

@wcvemail I've called the cops or seen other people call the cops many a time.  They always take their sweet time getting there and then "file a report."  In this case, journalism will probably do more for the public safety than the police department will.

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