A Pennsylvania woman is suing both the city and two local police departments after being severely injured in what she claims was a mishandled car chase. During a Friday afternoon rush hour back in November, 2014, Donna Jackson’s car was allegedly struck by the vehicle of another victim of the three-car pile-up, sustaining what she claims are serious injuries.
The chase began after (now convicted) Douglas Johnson, 54, stole a 2007 dodge sedan from a local gas station. Several days later, local police spotted Johnson driving the stolen vehicle, and tried unsuccessfully to make him pull over. Sources say that Johnson then drove “dangerously and erratically,” over streets and sidewalks, with the police in hot pursuit. The chase ended when Johnson drove through a red light at the Wilkes-Barre intersection of River and West Market Streets, hitting a bystander’s car, which then hit the plaintiff’s vehicle. Jackson’s complaint states that, “Despite Johnson’s ‘aggressive driving actions,’ [the police] pursued Johnson, exceeded applicable speed limits, disregarded traffic signs and signals, failed to follow the rules of the road, and improperly pursued Johnson through residential neighborhoods and commercial districts — on a Friday afternoon during rush hour.”
Jackson asserts that her alleged injuries, including “a traumatic brain injury, brain bleeding, memory loss, herniated disks, sight problems, and pain,” occurred as a direct result of police “improperly initiating and negligently maintaining the high-speed pursuit of Johnson in a manner inconsistent with policy, procedures, and law.” An affidavit filed by the police pursuer, Hanover Township police Officer Thomas Farver, primarily agrees with Jackson’s account of the geography and circumstances of the chase, but Jackson’s lawsuit goes further in assigning blame to the police for “improperly” entering the high-speed chase.
Representatives for the defendants, including spokeswoman for the city of Wilkes-Barre, Tyler Ryan, and Hanover Township police Chief Albert L. Walker, have not publicly commented on the lawsuit, each citing the grounds that it would be “improper” to comment on “pending litigation.”
The lawsuit, presented by Jackson’s attorney, Neil T. O’Donnell, seeks damages over $50,000 for what she claims has been a grueling process of medical treatment for her sustained injuries, as well as lost income, pain, and suffering. The complaint indicates that a full-recovery might not be possible for Jackson.