Two innocent men sue police following 2009 chase

August 31, 2010 4:40:06 AM PDT
A high-speed chase has led to a big federal lawsuit. The list of defendants is long and includes the city of Houston, the police chief, Harris County, cops and deputy constables. Two families claim their loved ones' civil rights were violated, but a Houston city attorney is saying their allegations have no merit.

In January 2009, dash-cam video from a police cruiser shows an officer in hot pursuit of a woman after she allegedly stole a deputy constable's patrol car. But a horrific crash that ended this dangerous, high-speed chase on Interstate 10 would change the lives of two innocent young men in a way their families would have never imagined.

"Seeing him there in ICU, on all those machines, drains coming out of his head to drain the fluid off his brain and him being unconscious was too much, it was surreal," said Lisa Bean-Kemp, the sister of Mecole Roques.

Roques, 20, is one of the victims in the crash. His family, along with the relatives of 22-year-old Dexter Sewell, says the crash left both men permanently brain damaged, disabled and unable to take care of themselves or their small children.

"It's like re-living with a child all over again at a point in my life and his life, also. I'll be taking care of him for the rest of his life," Sewell's mother, Tamika Sewell, said.

They accuse police of putting their loved ones in harm's way by stopping their car as part of a nighttime roadblock on the blind side of an overpass. The families are now suing HPD's police chief, the city of Houston, Harris County and the law officers involved.

"What it amounted to is a betrayal of trust that we place in our police officers to protect people in this community," attorney Michael Callahan said.

They're asking for in excess of $50 million to cover mounting medical costs and demanding better training and supervision of roadblock practices.

Houston City Attorney David Feldman insists the Houston police officers involved followed procedure and maintains there's no way that authorities could have anticipated the driver's actions.

"It's obviously extremely unfortunate that this suspect, instead of going through clear lanes of traffic, rammed into parked vehicles, and that's how the accident occurred," Feldman said.

Despite the allegations detailed in the lawsuit, the Houston Police Department isn't planning on revisiting its policy regarding police chases.

Feldman says he doesn't believe this case warrants another review of HPD's controversial chase policy.

"The policies and procedures HPD follows are consistent with the best practices followed by law enforcement agencies around the country," he said.


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