Monday, 29 March 2010

Dallas Settles Police 'Bait Car' Suit


Sometimes justice moves slowly. Governments are defined by their layers of red tape and procedure, intended on the surface to make sure everyone receives a fair experience. In practice however, the delays and weights put around government officials simply delay the execution of justice for those who need it most, when they need it most.

In June of 2008, Anna Tovar Reyes was struck and killed by a thief in a stolen vehicle. It has taken the nearly two years of intervening time for her family to reach a settlement with the Dallas city government in the wrongful death suit following her case. The car was provided for the thief by the city of Dallas, in the form of bait. It was part of a police program to leave out specially modified bait cars, equipped with cameras, GPS units, and a kill-switch, where thieves could grab them. This was intended as an effort to apprehend the city's more elusive auto thieves.

It is not the city's fault that the thief stole this particular car, of course. However, it took officers 27 seconds to activate the kill switch. In those 27 seconds, Reyes was hit and killed. The delay in action cost her the final years of her life, and the delay since has cost her family the comfort of closure. However, the city acknowledged that there was sufficient evidence to warrant offering a settlement to the family, given the specific facts of the case. If the car hadn't been present, or if the officers had been able to override the vehicle faster, Reyes would very likely still be alive.

Reyes' family will receive $245,000 in compensation for Anna's wrongful death. Nothing can replace the time lost or the memories, but in this instance patience has lead to justice in the end. This is the norm for wrongful death cases - time is required to sort through all the information available, and there are sadly few things that can be done to expedite the process.

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