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Prosecuting Attorney

Posted on: April 22, 2022

County prevails in suit; ruling affirms that fleeing suspects responsible for their own actions

Pierce County prevailed this week in a civil suit for damages after a fleeing suspect in 2017 caused a traffic collision that resulted in injuries. The court’s decision placed all liability on the driver who was illegally attempting to elude law enforcement, not on the deputies who were performing their job.

“This is an important win for the County and for the sheriff’s deputies,” said Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett, whose Civil Division defended the County in the suit. “But it’s also a win for law enforcement officers in all agencies. When criminal suspects try to evade the law and cause further harm in doing so, they’re the ones responsible and liable for that harm, not the law enforcement officers trying to prevent crime.”

After a civil bench trial, the court found that the Pierce County Sheriff’s Dept. and the involved deputies were in no way negligent or liable for any damages. Instead, the fleeing suspect was found to be 100% liable.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Kerri Jorgensen, who handled the case for the County, said, “This outcome protects Pierce County taxpayers. When a suspect tries to flee, taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for that bad decision. People expect law enforcement to be able to do its job. This ruling affirms that officers performing law enforcement functions aren’t at fault for someone else’s actions.”

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