Officer Must Face Claims After Fleeing Man Kills

     (CN) – A woman whose husband was killed by a suspect fleeing in a stolen police car can sue the officer who left the car running, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled.
     Crookston Police Officer Don Rasicot responded to a fellow officer’s call for help after an individual allegedly pounded on a vehicle and demanded money.
     Rasicot later testified that he considered the suspect, Ricardo Mello, to be combative, and a likely to flee arrest, based on Mello’s prior dealings with law enforcement.
     Rasicot followed Mello into a bar while the other officer blocked the bar’s back exit. Rasicot caught up to Mello and used a Taser on him.
     But Mello pulled the Taser darts out of his body and pushed Rasicot. The other officer entered, used his Taser on the suspect, again without effect.
     Both officers the maced Mello, but the mace temporarily blinded them and Mello escaped.
     Mello got into Rasicot’s police car, which was unlocked and running. He drove away but crashed into a car occupied by Eddie and Patricia Briggs. She was seriously hurt. Eddie Briggs was killed.
     Mello went to prison for 20 years after pleading guilty to second-degree murder, assault, obstruction and criminal vehicular homicide.
     Patricia Briggs sued Rasicot and the city of Crookston for negligence, wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
     Rasicot testified that he was unaware of a Crookston law passed in 2011 that banned drivers from leaving their cars unlocked, running and unattended.
     For this reason, the trial court ruled that the Rasicot and the city are not protected from Mrs. Briggs’ lawsuit by official immunity.
     The defendants’ appealed, but the Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the decision in a ruling written by Judge Michael L. Kirk.
     “Although Officer Rasicot claimed no knowledge of the ordinance, (the other officer) was aware of it and (former) Chief (Timothy) Motherway instructed the police department on the importance of locking an unattended squad vehicle while on duty for safety purposes,” Kirk wrote on behalf of the court’s three-judge panel.
     Kirk also quoted the 1977 case State v. King, which stated, “It is a deeply rooted concept of our jurisprudence that ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

%d bloggers like this: