The three sons of a Washington Township motorist killed as Toledo police were chasing a robbery suspect have filed suit in U.S. District Court, alleging civil rights violations.
Joseph Collins and J. Bart Collins, of Springboro, Ohio, and Jesup Collins of Tamuning, Guam, named the city, former police Chief Mike Navarre, current Chief Derrick Diggs, and 17 other Toledo police officers in the complaint, which alleges their father, Larry Collins, was killed Sept. 3, 2011, in a “high-speed, wrong-way, unsupervised, chaotic vehicle pursuit” that was contrary to department regulations.
“Pursuits such as the one that killed Larry Collins are virtually the most dangerous activities that police officers engage in,” Cincinnati attorney Scott Greenwood said in a news release about the suit he filed on behalf of the Collins family. “... In this case, the department completely ignored its stated policies.”
Mr. Collins, 64, was killed when a Toledo police cruiser smashed head-on into his vehicle as he was driving north on I-75. The cruiser, driven by Officer David O’Brien, was chasing Brian Everett Lipp, 48, of Lambertville when Lipp drove the wrong way onto I-75 and Officer O’Brien followed him. Lipp, who was ultimately shot and killed by police later that day, had been pursued for two days by police as a suspect in a home invasion and robberies at two Toledo pharmacies.
The lawsuit says TPD’s own policy on pursuits states that vehicle pursuits should be terminated “whenever the level of danger created by the pursuit outweighs the immediate consequences of the suspect’s escape.”
The suit contends that the city and the police department treated Mr. Collins’ death as a mere traffic accident, did not investigate it or present it to a grand jury, and did not contact the family to express regrets or offer assistance of any kind. Former Chief Navarre, who is now Oregon police chief, went to the funeral home in plain clothes but told the family he was there as an individual not as the police chief, the suit claims.
Chief Navarre said Wednesday he did not want to draw attention to himself by appearing in uniform.
“I was at the funeral home to express my sympathy and extend to the family basically the invitation that if there was anything we could do for them I would certainly try to help them out,” he said. “... It was very, very somber. I didn’t stay long. I just thought it was the appropriate thing to do.”
He and city spokesman Jen Sorgenfrei declined to comment on the lawsuit. “We have not yet seen the complaint, and we will respond through the courts,” Ms. Sorgenfrei said.
By Jennifer Feehan - The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (MCT)
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