Family seeks $19M from city over police chase crash - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Family seeks $19M from city over police chase crash

January 30th, 2022 development
Family seeks $19M from city over police chase crash

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

Four members of a local television news reporter’s family last July were on their way to get some ice cream when a man in an RV fleeing police ran a red light and crashed into one of their cars.

That family has now filed a claim for $19 million against the City of Chandler, claiming gross negligence by police officers.

The claim alleges that Andy Ramirez Jr. and his wife Norma Ramirez suffered major injuries to multiple parts of his body, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones and spinal joints.

Andy Ramirez, an Emmy Award-winning journalist with ABC15, was reported to have spent two weeks in a medically-induced coma as he fought for his life.

A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit and often leads to one if the defendant does not settle. The City of Chandler has a policy of not talking about current litigation.

The claim also contends that Ramirezes’ two daughters, Liana and Mia, witnessed the accident as they were driving behind their parents and that they are receiving ongoing medical care and treatment for the emotional injuries they sustained watching the RV t-bone their parents’ car.

The Ramirez family says it will agree to settle the claim for $12 million for Andy; $6 million for Norma; and $500,000 each for Mia and Liana.

Police received a call last July 24 saying someone in a motorhome was trespassing at a vacant downtown rental home. The homeowner told police she feared it might be drug-related.

The man inside the RV was later identified as Arnold Serrano and police would learn later the RV was stolen. As they tried to get his attention to talk with them, additional officers arrived and blocked off the back of the house and turned on spotlights.

Serrano then retracted the extended awnings and other portions of the motorhome, started the engine and crashed through a gate, forcing officers to take cover.

A police lieutenant officer fired several shots, striking the 32-year-old Serrano once.

“The unidentified driver proceeded down the sidewalk thereby striking a parked pick-up truck and entered the street and struck a parked tow truck before he was able to completely get into a traffic lane and exit the neighborhood,” the claim states.

The pursuit began, with officers reporting it reached speeds approaching 100 miles per hour.

Serrano allegedly ran two red lights with police chasing him. After the second signal, collided with the Ramirezes’ car and others at the intersection of Dobson and Frye, according to the claim.

Six cars were involved and about six people were injured, three seriously, the claim states.

The claim alleges that police “aggressively attempted to pursue the motorhome at reported speeds approaching one hundred (100) miles per hour, despite posing a threat to public safety and despite the fact that Chandler PD had no information suggesting the unidentified driver posed any immediate threat or harm to public safety,” which “led directly to the erratic, panicked, aggressive driving that caused the otherwise avoidable injuries.”

The claim also contends that the city is responsible because an officer’s action was the source or cause of the suspect’s reckless and hazardous driving. It also says officers failed to utilize reasonable care and conduct when trying to take Serrano into custody.

“The injuries and damages suffered by Claimants, as well as their related medical expenses, were caused in whole or in part by the actions and/or omissions of the City of Chandler and/or CPD and their agents, employees and assigns involved in the motor vehicle pursuit that led to the motor vehicle collision between Claimants and Arnold Se1rnno on July 24, 2021,” the claim states, contending that the pursuit was unjustified.

It says officers decided to engage in a high-speed pursuit without having any information that would form a reasonable belief that he posed an immediate threat to the public.

And it says the behavior of Chandler police officers that night was a direct violation of department procedures and responsible for the crash that injured the Ramirez family. The claim also alleges police used excessive force by shooting at the suspect and that the city’s failure to properly train the officers ultimately is to blame for the crash.

Maricopa County attorneys filed 18 counts of charges against Serrano, ranging from aggravated assault involving a deadly weapon to narcotic drug possession and use.

No Chandler police officers were injured in the encounter. Serrano’s case is scheduled to go to trial in Superior Court April 7.