Woman Killed, Two People Injured, After Buffalo Car Accident Following Police Pursuit Near The Intersection of Bailey Avenue and Doat Street
BUFFALO, NEW YORK (August 27, 2021) – A woman has tragically died and two people were injured following a Buffalo police pursuit car accident near the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Doat Street.
Erie County police officials are saying that the accident took place around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday. Buffalo police engaged in pursuit with a vehicle that they called ‘suspicious.’ It began by the intersection of Sycamore Avenue and Fillmore Avenue.
During the pursuit the fleeing vehicle reached a high rate of speed and ran a red light before it was t-boned near the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Doat Avenue.
Depending on the route taken the distance between the start of the pursuit and its finish was 1.7 – 1.8 miles. Firefighters and paramedics were called to the scene of the collision to help all of the victims.
Sadly, a female passenger in the car died. The male driver of the car was taken to the Erie County Medical Center in critical condition. Another woman in the car was taken to the Erie County Medical Center to receive treatment.
This tragic accident comes just two years after a similar high speed pursuit that led to the Buffalo Police Department being sued. Plaintiff’s attorneys for the victim of that crash are arguing that the police chase in question violated the city’s no-chase policy.
In most cases, Buffalo police officer’s are forbidden from engaging in high speed chases for minor offenses.
Liability In Buffalo Police Pursuit Car Accidents
All high-speed police pursuits carry with them a substantial risk of accidents involving serious injury or death. According to one report from USA Today, nearly 12,000 people have been killed in police pursuit accidents over the last 35 years. Far more have been seriously injured. Sadly, far too many of these accidents involve low level offenses. In many cases, police officers aren’t even chasing criminals. They’re often chasing people that they claim are ‘suspicious.’ It is outrageous in the extreme. Many of these victims are innocent bystanders.
Like most cities, Buffalo has policies with respect to beginning and terminating police pursuits. The police must balance the need to apprehend criminals with the safety of the public. Elements that will influence whether or not Buffalo police officers should engage in a pursuit will include:
- The risk to the community created by the pursuit
- The crime for which the suspect is wanted
- The area of the pursuit
- Weather conditions
- Environmental factors
According to the Buffalo Police Department’s own training manual, vehicle pursuits must be limited to: (1) situations where the life or safety of any person is in imminent danger or (2) a person is suspected of having committed a violent felony. Even if a pursuit was totally justified under the police department’s policies there are several factors that must be considered in determining if a pursuit should be terminated. Police officers must consider terminating a pursuit when:
- The conditions of the pursuit have become too risky for its safe continuation.
- A supervisor orders that a pursuit be terminated.
- Communication with supervising officers is broken.
- The pursuing officer is informed that the pursuit is out of compliance with department policy.
If the Buffalo police department violates their no-chase policy they could be held liable in the event of an accident. Generally speaking, police departments are liable for the negligent actions of their officers – when those officers are working within the course and scope of their job duties. For a plaintiff to win any civil claim they must demonstrate negligence. Negligence claims in New York have four elements:
- The victim was owed a duty of care
- There was a breach in that duty of care
- The breach caused damage
- Damages and injuries occured
The family of any victim that died in a car accident with a Buffalo police officer may be able to seek justice through a wrongful death claim. Damages in a civil claim can help cover lost wages, medical bills and funeral costs. Sadly, police departments will often fight extremely hard to deny any liability for an accident involving their officers. A wrongful death attorney can examine all of the unique facts of your case and let you know what your legal options are.
Investigating A Buffalo Police Chase Car Accident
We at Gersowitz Libo & Korek, P.C. extend our deepest condolences to the family of the woman that died in this accident. Any person that may have information about what happened should reach out to investigators. It is our sincere hope that there is accountability and transparency with what took place.
There are a number of questions that need to be answered. Did the Buffalo police department violate their own no-chase policy? What were the circumstances under which the pursuit began? Police pursuits carry an enormous risk to the public. In most situations, vehicle pursuits are not worth it. Thankfully, that is becoming the predominant view in police departments across the country.