Lawrence City Commission to consider $67,500 settlement related to police chase injuries

photo by: Mike Yoder

A police chase ended in an injury crash near the intersection of Second Street and McDonald Drive shortly after 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 20, 2016.

At its meeting Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission will consider approving a settlement related to a high-speed police chase that ended in a car accident.

William and Sandra Gibson, of Talmage, which is near Abilene, were injured in the accident and filed a lawsuit against members of the Lawrence Police Department earlier this year. The city attorney’s office is recommending the commission approve a $67,500 settlement agreement, according to a memo to the commission. The settlement states that it is not an admission of liability and intends to avoid the expense of future litigation.

The police chase occurred July 20, 2016, after turnpike authorities alerted Lawrence police to a van with a stolen tag that had been spotted near the city, according to Journal-World reports. Lawrence police pursued the van, driven by Patrick Shanahan, which collided with the Gibson car at the intersection of Second Street and McDonald Drive.

In January, the Gibsons filed a lawsuit against Lawrence police officer Lawrence Hamilton and other officers who were not identified. In the lawsuit, the Gibsons claim that the decision to pursue the vehicle in a high-speed chase, given the circumstances, was unreasonable and negligent.

The lawsuit names Hamilton as the officer who pursued the van and claims that Hamilton’s decisions to engage in and continue the high-speed chase were made in reckless disregard for the safety of others. The suit goes on to claim that the chase went against the police department policy that an officer may initiate a pursuit when “the officer has reason to believe a suspect presents a clear and present danger to the safety of others, or the need for apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by the fleeing suspect.”

The lawsuit claims that Hamilton’s negligence and that of unidentified officers and supervisors caused the Gibsons to “suffer substantial personal injury, permanent disability, loss of income, and conscious pain and suffering.” The lawsuit requests compensation of at least $75,000.

In a response to the lawsuit, Hamilton denied negligence in connection with the accident and denied that there was “any deviation from the standard of care” outlined in the police department’s pursuit policy.

A trial in the case is scheduled to begin June 24, 2019, according to court documents. If approved by the commission, the settlement would be paid from the city’s liability reserve fund, according to the memo. The memo states that, to date, the city has incurred $8,413 in legal fees related to the lawsuit.


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