City to Settle With Family of Man Struck and Killed By DPD Squad Car Five Years Ago
According to court documents, on the evening of September 23, 2005, Dallas Police officer Kent Wolverton received a call for help from a fellow officer at the Larry Johnson Recreation Center on Dixon Avenue near Fair Park. Wolverton would later insist "that he heard screaming in the background of the call," and so he he raced to the scene doing 60 through a residential neighborhood -- but without lights or sirens, because there was, per the dispatch, no actual emergency. From U.S. District Judge Jane Boyle's own recap in June 2007:
As he neared a grocery store on Dixon Avenue, Wolverton swerved around a vehicle stopped in the roadway and violently struck L.V. Daniels Jr., who was crossing the street on foot. Daniels was flung from the point of impact, suffered severe injuries, and later died.
Three months after Daniels was killed, his family sued the city in federal court, attempting to prove that Wolverton had violated United States Code: Title 42,1983, which says that municipal governments are to be held liable if someone's Constitutional rights are violated. To which Boyle and, later, the United State Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruled, "Nice try, but no." In 2008, the case got as far as the U.S. Supreme Court, which denied the petition in December of '08.
And so off the case went to the state court. Only, it never got too far: Just a few weeks ago, Dallas city attorneys and Stanley Broome, representing Daniels's family, sat down with a mediator to discuss settling the case. And they have: According to the agenda for next week's council meeting, the city will cut the family a check for $200,000, which is close to the capped amount allowed under state law. In October of last year, the city paid the maximum amount of $250,000 to the the family of Cole Berardi, the 10-year-old boy also struck and killed by a police officer traveling at a high speed. (Berardi's death was captured on dash-cam video and later broadcast.) Both Daniels and Berardi's deaths resulted in Chief David Kunkle's rewriting the rules about when and how officers could travel at high speeds. (As in: They're not allowed if a patrol car isn't running its lights and sirens.)
"We're disappointed the law doesn't allow a larger recovery for the damages the family suffered," Broome tells Unfair Park today. "But we're pleased with the progress the city's making in addressing high-speed chases."