Los Angeles County To Pay $4 Million To Families Of Couple Killed In Car Crash Caused By Police Officer
District Attorney Jackie Lacey chose not to prosecute officer
Los Angeles County will pay out $4 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by family members of a couple killed when riding in a truck that was hit by a car driven by a police officer. Despite evidence that excessive speed caused the accident, District Attorney Jackie Lacey chose not to prosecute the responsible police officer.
Sara Paynter and Robert Delgadillo were both killed in December 2013 when a Los Angeles County patrol vehicle struck their truck. The police car, driven by Deputy Kamal Jannah, had been traveling 83 mph in a 50 mph zone before the crash. Jannah had not turned on his lights or siren and was not responding to an emergency call, a district attorney’s memo said.
The memo, cited in the Los Angeles Times, stated “As he approached the intersection of East Avenue R and 17th Street, Jannah noticed the vehicle the victims were riding in, but said it did not have its turn signal activated…When it began to enter his lane of traffic, Jannah forcefully applied his brakes but still collided with the truck. At the moment of collision, Jannah was traveling about 57 mph.”
Paynter and Delgadillo had recently become engaged and were on their way to tell family. They were ejected from the truck when it was hit and pronounced dead at the scene.
An investigation by the California Highway Patrol determined that the speed of the patrol vehicle was the major cause of the crash, and that the crash would likely not have occurred if Jannah had obeyed the speed limit.
According to the CHP report, “Deputy Jannah willfully drove at a speed that did not allow him sufficient time and distance to take appropriate evasive action to avoid a collision. This grossly negligent act was determined to be the proximate cause of this collision, the proximate cause of the fatal injuries.” The report concluded that Jannah had committed gross vehicular manslaughter.
Despite the report, Lacey’s office maintained it declined to prosecute Jannah because it could not prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” the gross negligence required for a felony charge of vehicular manslaughter.
And, the investigation into the crash did not conclude until 2015. By then the statute of limitations on misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges against Jannah had expired.
According to the Los Angeles Times, it’s unclear why the investigation took so long to reach its conclusion.
Jannah was responding to reports of a fight at the time of the accident. He was originally told by the dispatcher that the situation was an emergency. The dispatcher subsequently clarified that, in fact, the alleged fight was not an emergency. County officials said some blame lay with the dispatcher for creating confusion.
Jannah stopped working as a sheriff’s deputy in September 2016. Sheriff’s officials refused to say whether he quit or was fired.