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Family of woman killed in crash with LAPD cruiser files lawsuit

The family of a woman killed after being struck by a Los Angeles police cruiser is suing the department.

The parents of Devin Leigh Petelski, 25, on Thursday filed a lawsuit alleging negligence. Petelski was killed Oct. 15 when her car was struck by a police patrol car that allegedly had neither its flashing lights or sirens on as it sped to a burglary call shortly before midnight. She died two days later at UCLA Medical Center.

The officers -- Ramon Vasquez and James Eldridge -- hadn’t notified dispatchers that they were heading to a burglary-in-progress call, police investigators later told The Times, and were traveling above the posted 40 mph at Glyndon Avenue and Venice Boulevard. In the crash, their patrol car spun around and hit a tree. The department had recently enacted a policy requiring patrol cars to use lights and sirens when exceeding the speed limit on the way to a 911 call.

The crash outraged nearby residents, who held a candlelight march from the accident site to the LAPD’s Pacific Division, and created a Facebook page to seek witnesses to the crash.

Petelski, who graduated from Crossroads High School in Santa Monica and studied communications at UC Santa Barbara, was a substance abuse counselor at the time of her death.

-- Sam Quinones

Comments () | Archives (21)

I wondered how long it would take before they sued the LAPD for running over the lady after an accident. That was bizarre. LAPD advice? "Always Stay in Your Car When Stopped On the Freeway"

Its a tragic accident. Its sad for the individual killed in the crash, but suing the department is not going to help. It was an accident. Now the department is once again going to change policy which will delay the response even more. Now victims of crimes in progress will be even waiting longer...because officers will be hesitant to "go above and beyond" to assist due this accident...and probably a very bad outcome.

"The crash outraged nearby residents, who held a candlelight march from the accident site to the LAPD’s Pacific Division, and created a Facebook page to seek witnesses to the crash."

While this was tragic, are these same people as outraged when murders occur in Pacific Division, and do they do marches and Facebook pages for those victims also? Just curious.

That was not an accident. We need to stop calling everything an accidents. These are needless deaths and calling everything an accident strips away peoples responsibility to act judiciously in operating a dangerous vehicle.

It wasn't an "accident", it was a negligent action that lead to a woman's death.

They officers failed to follow the law and they failed to follow department policy. They were speeding without any lights or sirens on. They failed to alert dispatch that they were heading to a call.

Good for the family! We see speeding cops and CHP units all the time, with no red lights/siren as REQUIRED by the Vehicle Code (CVC 21055). It is not an option; it's a requirement! I understand that they need to get to the crime scene ASAP and I laud them for that, but my problem is that they often do not use the red lights/siren...and they expect US to follow traffic laws???? What's so hard about flipping the switch to turn it on (and thereby saving some lives!)???

Using red lights and the siren is not always advisable. It depends on the situation. My partner and I never never used that damn siren unless we needed to break through traffic. The last thing you want as an officer is for the suspect to hear that siren or see those flashing lights.

I'm glad I'm retired from that job now. Too many rules, too many people who don't know their rear end from a hole in the ground telling the police what to do.

Hey imagine if it was your daughter. I'd be mad at the LAPD too. You people posting have no clue or heart. The LAPD made a mistake. Trust me if it happened to you I'm sure you'd take the same action. You people posting are brain dead idiots.

This was no accident, but a result of a combinatiom of factors including poor training, inadequate guidelines, & officer disregard for existing guidelines.
And unfortunately it is not the first/only time an innocent has been killed during a police pursuit that didn't need to be goin on.

As an LAPD Officer and a father, I am extremely sad for this family and their loss. I assure you posters that care and are rational, that these Officers intent wasn't to have this happen, they were just trying to respond to a serious crime in progress. I too am guilty as any Officer who is responding to calls like this of not using my sirens. I use my emergency "red" lights, but not my sirens all the time at those times of night. The idea is to catch the suspected criminal, where if he has already made entry into the residence, I use my sirens as well, in hopes to scare the suspect out of the residence and away from the family. Again, this is not an excuse, but a reality of stopping potentially a violent crime. And if you don't think a prowler suspect is potentially violent, Google Richard Ramirez. When this kind of crime is being perpetrated against you and your family, and your children are scared for their lives, while hiding in a closet, you'll pray to which ever God you wish for the Police to get their 2 hours ago! This was indeed an accident, anyone who ignorantly posts otherwise is just stirring the pot. Again, my sincere heart felt prayers are with this young woman's family.

LAPD keeps backing up all these bad officers. Why? Is it really a surprise that even law abiding middle class people don't trust and actually hate the LAPD?

Why are these two officers exempt from prosecution? Why are police officers no longer held accountable for their actions?

From now on I vote against ANYTHING that give the police more money or power and I'm going to encourage everyone I know to do the same.

LAPD has become a gang like the CRIPS and the BLOODS and the AB.

The only difference: your tax dollars support this gang.

What about the dead gal's toxicology?

I heard she had ingested mind-altering substances. She was an admitted junkie.

These same lames that are pointing fingers at officers who "speed" to crime scenes, are the same people who harass the police when they don't respond quick enough to a "loud party" nuisance call or when their iPod gets snatched.


So you are saying that if those two officer needed to disregard department policy to keep the public safe? So its ok that they murder Devin as long as their response time is good?

I think I'll take my chances with the criminals - thanks anyway.

Now my question :if it had been a bus driver who did that do you think he would still have his job? How about a city clerk? Or a fireman?Or a librarian? I mean if any other person in any other city job disregarded department policy and KILLED SOMEONE, do you think they would still have their jobs? No. Not a F'ing chance.

And I know, its a tough job being a cop. Making about a 100K a year with a highschool diploma is tough. And we call them hero's because they do what they get well paid to do. All I'm saying is STOP PROTECTING THE BAD OFFICERS! Look at other posts people put up. They hate the LAPD because they see it as an old boys network that protects the rotten apples. Which it is.

The LAPD has no real oversight.
No system of any kind can survive without a negative feedback loop.

WakeUpCall, did you even read the article? Are you really that dumb?

The officers ran at 80mph with no lights or sirens in a 40mph street. This was verified when their car computer was analyzed. After the accident they wrote in their report that they were traveling between 40 to 45 mph. They also wrote that they smelled alcohol on the victim, to make it sound that she was drunk at the time of the accident. The hospital conducted tests that verified that she had no alcohol or drugs in her system.
This is for all those cops posting saying we don't know our facts from our rear end. I had a policeman named Bardoon in Burbank stop my 16 year old son as we were going to celebrate his birthday at a restaurant. He told him to get out of his town with the Olds Cutlass Supreme he was driving, because they didn't want his kind there. Little did he know that we were following in my car and when I parked behind him and asked him why he had stopped my son, he told me that they were making too much noise through the sunroof and he sped off. Very brave policemen, huh? A gun and a badge makes them feel like God over the rest of us. They really give a bad name to the rest of us civilians, which they despise.

The girl pulled out into the intersection. She had to yeild to oncoming traffic. Who had the right of way? The police officers. It still wouldn't matter to the liberals if it was a signal controled intersection and she had a red light. Certain individuals always blame the police.

I wish they would just pass a stinking law to have officers responding to liberal cop haters' calls under the speed limit, stop at all red lights and stop signs, and park at the nearest legal parking space even if it is blocks away before they get out of their cars and do police work. In fact liberals can do their share by not calling the police at all to prevent them from unnecessarily driving and putting people at risk on the roads.

James, she was my neighbor and she was a registered republican. It makes me sick to think I served in Iraq with good, smart, decent people who have died over there for people like you. People who hide behind some ethos of conservativism but secretly hate america. You make me sick to call myself a conservative. You're pathetic.

People, she was my neighbor and a sweet caring person. What happened is tragic. Please don't let those living abortions like JAMES ruin your day.

All of you that posted negative comments, I hope it never happens to you. LAPD does not follow the rules, and when someone dies it is always the victim fault. When people as you make them think they are gods we have problems. The officer never told the department, they were answering the call. The passenger in the police care could have made the call. They were just two hot dogs on the loose. This is not the first time these two have not followed a procedure either. Not following procedures is no excuse when someone is killed, but it may make you feel better. These two will only get a slap on the wrist, and the tax payers will foot the bill as always. Furthermore, their insurance increases the budget, but that is okay with some of you. The young lady's was important to her friends, and family even those she was not one your gods.

Another case of a cop speeding without lights or sirens. Sheriffs, LAPD and CHP all disobey traffic laws as they see fit; maybe thats why no on respects those officers who pull them over.
Respect has to be earned and it can be lost and right now officers all over the country are losing respect because of their thugish, unlawful and often gangster like tactics from tasering people who run onto fields (and btw, the rest of the western world manages to just round up suspects without use of a taser), to beating people who haven't commited any crimes, to Gestapo type SWAT raids where it's shoot first and ask why questions later, even with non-violent suspects.

Hey Robert, on your next emergency don't call 911 or the opertor because like you said "LAPD are gangsters." Also you don't have to pay taxes or sign any tickets and then let's see what would happen to you. So the next time you need police service in LA who would you call instead? Who? Yeap, you're stuck with LAPD aren't you? I'm not a cop but the majority that I do know are professionals. Yes there are some bad apples out there but very few like in any other profession. Maybe you're a bad apple yourself in your job, who knows? By the way didn't you hear that an LAPD detective was arrested today for stealing? Well there goes your theory out the door that "LAPD backs all the bad officers."


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