The California Supreme Court ruled that as long as a department requires 100% of its officers to certify they have read and understood the vehicle-pursuit policy, that agency is not liable for a collision.
Approximately one quarter of California’s pursuits end in collisions, according to the California Highway Patrol.
In a decision written by Justice Ming W. Chin, the state high court interpreted California law to allow departments to escape liability if their written policies mandate 100% officer certification.
The “plain meaning” of a 2005 law on police pursuits is that a department must have a policy requiring 100% compliance to achieve immunity, “not that every peace officer must meet the requirement,” Chin wrote.
About a minute into the pursuit, a Gardena officer rammed the truck, causing the death of 19-year-old Mark Gamar.
Mildred O’Linn, a lawyer for Gardena, said Monday’s decision was “worth millions in governmental immunity to cities and counties.”
Abdalla J. Innabi, who represented Gamar’s mother, said the ruling ended the ability of victims of police pursuits to obtain compensation as long as a department has a pursuit policy in place.
Travis Yates is the Director of SAFETAC Trainer and lead instructor with “Drive To Survive“. He teaches officers across the country pursuit tactics and says that the ruling will have little affect on officers across the country. “Despite an agency having a policy, officers are still required to follow that policy, in order to be shielded from liability,” Yates told us.
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