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Wrongful Death – Mother: Cop, Not Ex-Boyfriend, Deserves Prison Time

February 1, 2012

At what point negligence becomes willful and wanton disregard for a person’s safety?

This is the question that the alleged facts of the case below raises for me. The alleged facts are generally that the boyfriend was drink and calls on his girl to drive hum home. She has a suspended driver’s license and has no babysitter on call. So she puts the baby in the safety seat, as she should, and get the drunk boyfriend. On their way home, they are stopped by a police officer. Upon realizing that the girl friend’s license is suspended, he arrests her, and gives the keys to the car and the baby in the back seat to the drunk boy friend to go home. On their way home, the drunk boy friend crashes the car killing the baby.

Police officers have immunity from the negligent acts they commit while in the performance of their duties. However, police officers are still responsible for willful and wanton acts they commit that causes harm to others. That is, while a police officer may not be held responsible for running into a bystander while chasing a bad guy, he can be held liable if he runs into the bystander on purpose or the chase he has entered into is so dangerous and so unreasonable that it becomes tantamount to a willful and wanton act.

In the case below, the police officer allegedly gives the keys to a drunk person allowing him to drive the vehicle along with the baby in the backseat. Is this an act of negligence that is tantamount to a wilful and wanton disregard for the safety of others, namely the baby in the backseat? I suppose if the case does not settle, twelve jurors will be able to tell us the answer.

“This police officer might have prevented this offense, but he did not cause it,” stated Burmilla.

However, LaFond’s attorney, Mark Horowitz, countered that Officer Felicetti bears all of the responsibility.

“He controlled the situation. He’s the one that pulled her over. He could have ‘A’ told Kathie to drive the child home. He could have given her a ticket roadside. He could have said go home, don’t let me catch you out again,” he said.

via Mother: Cop, Not Ex-Boyfriend, Deserves Prison Time | NBC Chicago.

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