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Widow Of Bystander Killed In Police Chase Sues 2 South Carolina Police Departments

The driver charged in the crash was not named in the lawsuit.

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A Charleston County, South Carolina woman is suing the Hanahan and North Charleston police departments after her husband was killed as a bystander in a 2018 police chase.

Braulia Benitez Mondragon filed the wrongful death lawsuit in Charleston County earlier this week, as first reported by Live 5 News

According to the lawsuit, Mondragon’s husband Rosael Gutierrez-Toledo was killed by a driver being chased by both Hanahan and Charleston police officers on Feb. 11, 2018. Gutierrez-Toledo was legally crossing the street at the intersection of Read and Remount roads in North Charleston when he was struck by the man leading police on the pursuit.

The civilian driver was not named in the lawsuit. According to Live 5 News, Terrance A. Green was charged with reckless homicide in the crash.

The lawsuit claims the police departments were “grossly negligent” in failing to exercise “reasonable or slight care to follow known protocols regarding the initiation, continuation, and termination of high speed pursuit.”

Mondragon is blaming the departments for not terminating the police chase when the driver was moving at a high rate of speed and driving recklessly, according to the suit. The driver was on the wrong side of the road during the pursuit and “was placing other motorists and pedestrians and an unreasonable risk.”

Mondragon, represented by attorneys Scott Evans and James Moore of Georgetown, is requesting a jury trial. 

SC police pursuits… a problem?

A recent Greenville News investigation found that 113 people were killed during police pursuits in South Carolina from 2009 to 2018, making it the No. 3 state in the nation for people killed in police chases during that time, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

A “vast majority” of police chases in South Carolina were “initiated over traffic violations and other nonviolent crimes, ” and one in three resulted in injury or death, according to a 2018 State newspaper article. In the article, several police experts suggested that a state-wide policy for police pursuits could help reduce the high number of deaths.

Multiple commenters on the Live 5 News story about the recent police chase lawsuit appeared angry the police were being sued instead of the driver. 

“It’s not the police’s fault, that the man decided to create a police chase. He could have stopped at any time and avoided that,” a commenter wrote. 

In 2018, an Easley, South Carolina woman won a $1 million settlement with the City of Liberty after her husband was killed as a bystander in a police chase by a man who was allegedly on meth. 

Even the suspects who were being pursued by police at the time of their accidents have won settlements against SC police departments. 

In 2014, an Orangeburg man who was injured after leading deputies on a police chase won a $260,000 settlement with the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety, the Times and Democrat reported.

That man, Quinnton Jamar Henderson, has allegedly led police on two other chases since he won the lawsuit in 2014, according to the Times and Democrat.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Mandy Matney
photo by CH2 magazine

Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an award-winning journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Want to contact Mandy? Send your story ideas, comments, suggestions and tips to [email protected].

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