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Police Officer Sues City Over Crash of Patrol Vehicles

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By Lookout Staff

January 5, 2023 -- A crash involving two Santa Monica police patrol SUVs responding to emergency calls two years ago is headed to court after one of the officers filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The case filed by Cain Mora against the City and fellow officer Jason Ziegler alleges the December 26, 2020 collision that injured both men was due to a lack of training, according to a City News Service report.

The lawsuit, which alleges a violation of due process, claims that Ziegler ran a red light and struck Cain's vehicle as it was crossing the intersection of Pico Boulevard and 11th Street with a green signal, according to City News.

Mora maintains he was headed north on 11th Street at 35 mph, while Ziegler was driving west on Pico at 55 mph as both officers were responding to emergencies with their flashing lights and sirens on.

According to the lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, Ziegler "failed to or otherwise improperly cleared the intersection" hitting the right side of Mora's SUV and crushing the front end.

The impact also severely damaged Ziegler's SUV, breaking the windshield. Both officers were hospitalized.

In January 2021, the California Highway Patrol, which investigated the case at the request of SMPD, found that Ziegler "did not properly clear the intersection and failed to operate (his SUV) with due regard for the safety of cross traffic," according to the lawsuit.

By proceeding against the red light and "failing to safely clear the intersection," Ziegler caused the collision, the investigation concluded.

Ziegler told investigators he had no memory of the crash when he woke up at the hospital, the lawsuit states.

Mora's lawsuit claims SMPD failed to adequately train officers on how to clear an intersection when responding to an emergency call, according to City News.

Instead, "officers were permitted or instructed to operate emergency vehicles carelessly and/or without due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway," the lawsuit alleges.

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