Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Maricopa County likely to pay $650,000 over deadly Phoenix pursuit

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday almost certainly will agree to pay $650,000 to the family of a 33-year-old man killed during a September 2007 pursuit in north Phoenix by sheriff's deputies.

The victim's family claimed sheriff's deputies acted negligently by pursuing a car that hit and killed Salvador Cereceres Herrera, during the pursuit.

A March 2008 notice of claim filed against Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Board of Supervisors and the county's Risk Management Department alleged deputies violated the sheriff's pursuit policy when they chased the car at high speeds in north Phoenix after its 15-year-old driver refused to stop. According to the claim, Cereceres Herrera was killed after the driver ran a red light while being "pursued recklessly and in violation of law at high speeds by" Deputy Ronald Frieberg. The claim asserts that Deputy Kelly Bocardo, who was in training at the time, was also negligent by failing to provide critical information to her supervisor so he or she could manage the pursuit.

Sheriff's Deputy Chief Jack MacIntyre acknowledged to The Arizona Republic that deputies violated the agency's pursuit policy but said, "The deviation was small - and that was in that brief few-minute pursuit, they did not fully inform the sergeant so the sergeant can call them off. But that's Monday morning quarterbacking - especially when they're pursuing someone at night who appears to be a threat to the community."

MacIntyre said the 15-year-old was on probation, was driving a stolen vehicle and had alcohol and drugs in his system. After the pursuit, he was convicted of second-degree murder, MacIntyre said. "He was in fact was driving recklessly and Mr. Cereceres left a mother and father and an 8-year-old daughter that he was very close to," he said.

Cereceres Hererra's daughter and parents initially asked for $2 million to settle the case.

The proposed settlement appears on the supervisors' formal agenda for Wednesday, and it would be rare for the board to reject such a payout.

The Risk Management Department did not respond to requests for comment.

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