A bizarre police incident turned deadly in East St. Louis. Authorities believe an Illinois man was drunk or drugged when he swiped a police cruiser and caused a fatal car accident.
Metro-East police responded to a complaint that a passenger didn’t want to pay a bus fare. Officers extracted a man from the bus without incident until the suspect ran to a nearby, unlocked police cruiser and drove off. A car accident involving the cruiser killed a Belleville woman.
St. Louis police have permission to keep cruiser engines running while conducting business outside their vehicles. Officers are supposed to secure cars when they aren’t in them, according to the local assistant chief of police.
Deputies said the suspect hopped into the cruiser and hollered “I need a drink” into the police radio before speeding away at up to 100 mph. Two blocks later, the cruiser crashed into a pair of cars waiting at an intersection.
One car that was hit struck a row of trees. The driver of that vehicle was transported to the hospital with less-than-severe injuries. A second vehicle was shoved violently into a utility pole, killing the 41-year-old driver – a newlywed who had been on her way to work.
The suspect who allegedly stole the police cruiser was also hospitalized. Formal charges were expected to follow the suspect’s release. Authorities suspect drugs or alcohol caused the man’s unusual and lethal behavior.
Multiple criminal charges await the disgruntled bus passenger and alleged car thief. The victims of the cruiser crash, including the newly-married husband who became a sudden widower, may also file negligence lawsuits for economic damage recovery.
A personal injury attorney may want to examine the role of the police. It is unclear whether an officer or the city police department could be held liable for the accident because of neglecting to follow standard police policy – locking the door of a police car.
Source: kmov.com, “Woman killed in Metro-East accident recently returned from honeymoon,” Oct. 4, 2012