$1.5 Million to Family of Biker Slain by Drunk Policeman

Motorcycle, by Flickr user "drocpsu", licensed via Creative Commons.In Indianapolis’s second-largest legal settlement to date, the family of Eric Wells, a motorcyclist killed by a speeding police car two years ago, has received $1.5 million from the municipal government.  While stopped at a red light with some other motorcycle enthusiasts, Wells was struck from behind and killed by a policeman driving a city police vehicle.  Officer David Bisard’s actions at the time of the crash are a triumvirate of dangerous driving practices: he was drunk (technically only allegedly — see suspicious circumstances below), he was speeding towards a non-emergency he was not dispatched to, and to top it all off, he was using his in-car police computer for non-police purposes while driving.  Any one of those details on their own would be enough for a hefty civil case.  Combined, it seems to any observer that the man is justly doomed to a life in jail.  In fact, a criminal trial for reckless homicide and criminal recklessness are still pending, along with two more civil cases for the two motorcyclists he only injured.  So what’s the hold up?

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Two Settlements for Families of Mentally Ill Killed by Police Errors

Some riot police, by Flickr user "Charles de Jesus", licensed via Creative Commons.

Yesterday, a couple of similar settlements were reached concerning cases where undue police violence against innocent mentally ill citizens led to death.  Read on to find out the details.



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Fatal Philadelphia Duckboat Crash Settled for $17 Million

A Boston duckboat, by Flickr user Patrick Haney, licensed via Creative Commons.Though it walks two worlds, it is master of none.

A duckboat is a particular kind of bus that can travel by both land and sea.  Typically seen in cities like Philadelphia and Boston, which have prominent and accessible rivers, the boat/bus hybrid is particularly useful for tour companies, the novelty of amphibious sightseeing being extremely attractive to tourists.  Rarely do these duckboats cause a problem.  Their pre-planned and short water routes don’t get in the way of bigger ships, and on land they operate just like normal buses.  Back in July 2010, however, bad luck and negligence conspired conspired to end this reputation of relative safety.  A duckboat stalled in the water.  A tugboat captain pushing a barge turned down his emergency radio and looked away to answer a phone call.  The two vessels — one helpless, one aimless — collided.  The duck boat tumbled underneath the barge, bringing two Hungarian tourists to a watery grave.  Yesterday, after two years of negotiations and court maneuvering, lawyers associated with the case announced that they had reached a settlement with the tug- and duckboat companies.

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$2.5 Million for Family of Crash Victim

Cracked windshieldAccording to the New Haven Register, the family of David Servin, a teenager killed in an accident with a police cruiser, have reached a settlement with the city of Milford, Connecticut.  The family will receive $2.5 million to drop the wrongful death civil suit brought against the policeman at the helm of the vehicle, Jason Anderson.  Servin and a friend, Ashlie Krakoski, both 19 years old, were returning home from a party when they were struck by a police car travelling 94 miles per hour.  The now-former policeman was not responding to a call at the time of the accident.  Mr. Anderson still faces two criminal charges of second-degree manslaughter.

Although the two teenagers had been drinking that night and autopsies revealed they were above the legal limit to drive, the settlement shows that a civil trial may have been damaging to the city.  It’s possible that the policeman would have been found culpable for the deaths regardless of the teenagers’ sobriety.  Be careful when on the road, because you never know what’s around the corner.