A Tennessee couple is suing their local sheriff's department for compensation from damage to their home caused by a detective. The detective was allegedly driving while intoxicated when he crashed his pickup truck into their home last year. They are suing the department for negligence and are alleging that officers tried to cover up the drunk driving accident.
The complaint says that the detective attempted to flee, but was held by one of the homeowners. At that point, he called a friend on his cellphone and asked to be picked up. Emergency call records reflect that a state trooper was dispatched to the scene initially, but a call from an unidentified county officer told troopers to disregard the request and not to come to the scene. The detective was then removed from the scene without questioning or sobriety testing or any other form of investigation.
The couple is seeking compensation for damage to their property as well as punitive damages. Punitive damages are for non-material or non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional trauma.
The attorney representing the couple told reporters that "there are still many unanswered questions regarding this conspiracy and cover-up." Investigation will continue as discovery proceeds in this case.
Both the detective and the officer that removed him from the scene were fired shortly after the accident for violating department policies. However, the department has not provided information as to the specific policies violated or whether the firing had any relation to the crash.
Pursuing an action such as this against a government entity or employees can be difficult. Government employees are eligible for official immunity if they were acting within the scope of their duties and following protocols. This case seems to be outside the bounds of official immunity based on the facts currently available.
Source: Knox News, "Couple sues Campbell County Sheriff's office for living room crash," Natalie Neysa Alund, March 23, 2012.