JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - A WLBT meteorologist took the stand Tuesday in his lawsuit against the city of Jackson, the police department and a Jackson police officer, stemming from a devastating car wreck.
It happened on a Sunday evening in June of 2006. Eric Law and his wife Christina were on their way to grab dinner before an overnight trip out of state. But they never made it.
Instead, a stolen Jeep slammed into their car at McFadden and McDowell Road in south Jackson. The Jeep's driver, 38-year-old Carol Dearman, was being chased by a Jackson police officer minutes before the crash.
"I told my wife, I said, we're in a car wreck, I said, we're going to be okay. They're working to get us out of the car. I told her I loved her and God was watching over us," Law testified. "I had severe glass cuts, where glass in the car shot at me like bullets. I was like a target."
On the second day of the trial, an expert witness testified that the officer's pursuit was conducted with reckless disregard for public safety.
"As this pursuit was allowed to continue- not necessarily at the beginning of the pursuit, but as it was allowed to continue- the cumulative effect of time, distance, speed and additional offenses committed along the way indicate to me that it was reckless endangerment of the public," said Steven D. Ashley, a retired Michigan police officer and head of Training and Risk Management for Criminal Justice in Michigan.
Ashley testified that an officer's job is to preserve the public safety, and must decide when a chase becomes more dangerous for the public than trying to capture a suspect later.
In the first day of testimony, Officer May admitted he might have been driving over the posted speed limit at certain points, but stopped actively pursuing Dearman about a minute before the crash.
The defense calls Dearman a known prostitute and drug dealer who was driving without a license, and suggests Officer May was just doing his job.
Dearman pleaded guilty last year to a number of charges, including aggravated assault. She is serving 20 years at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility.