Married couple killed in LA following high-speed police pursuit

Three people were killed and another injured in a high-speed crash in Lynwood following a police pursuit that began in South Gate early on Sunday. A married couple, Flavio Balderas, 60, and his wife Micaela were killed after their car was hit by a Tesla that was being chased by the police. The driver of the Tesla, 20-year-old James Griffin, died on the spot while another passenger in the car was critically injured.

It all started when a police officer saw two people tampering with a parked vehicle in South Gate, believed to be a catalytic converter theft in progress. When they noticed the officer, the two people got into a Tesla and drove away. The police said the officers had called off the pursuit when it reached dangerous speeds, but shortly after that, the Tesla hit the Balderas’ car. 

Can you hold the police accountable for a crash following a high-speed chase?

At first look, it may seem like the driver of the Tesla is solely to blame for the tragedy. However, such cases require an in-depth investigation as the police may also be held accountable. Victims should reach out to seasoned Los Angeles accident lawyers as soon as possible. 

According to a recent report by USA Today, since 1979 more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have died because of police chases. Most of them were innocent victims, like the Balderas, killed in their own vehicle after being hit by a fleeing driver.

When can you hold the police accountable?

Under California’s Vehicle Code 17000, a public entity may be liable for injury, death, or property damage if the officer acted wrongfully or with negligence.

The police should intervene when they happen upon a crime being committed, but they must also weigh the risks to innocent civilians. 

Specifically, the police must decide if the nature of the offense warrants a risky high-speed pursuit and if there are safer ways to apprehend the suspect. The officers need to consider the injuries and damages a chase may cause innocent road users, as well as the suspect.

If they decide to give chase, they must also be able to judge when to end the pursuit.

Maybe the young man was indeed trying to steal a catalytic converter and he deserved to be arrested for that, but no one should have died for that. Both families will probably want a closer look at what happened to determine when exactly did the police call off their pursuit. 

Have you been injured in a car accident in the Los Angeles area?

If you or a loved one were recently injured in a car accident in Long Beach or the Los Angeles area, contact the skilled attorneys at the Neumann Law Group. Our attorneys have 200 years of combined experience in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Through our dedicated representation of accident victims and their families, we will help you bring the at-fault driver to justice or hold a public entity accountable for your damages. To schedule a free initial consultation, call our toll-free number at 800-525-6386. To contact our California office, call 213-277-0001.

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