Civil Trial Over Police Chase To Begin Soon
WILKES-BARRE — The civil trial a woman brought against Wilkes-Barre and Hanover Twp. police over a car chase is set to begin later this month.
Lawyers on Friday filed jury instructions, a verdict slip and other documents as the Dec. 10 trial date nears for Swoyersville resident Donna Jackson, who alleges she was severely injured as a result of an “ill-advised and dangerous police chase” on Nov. 7, 2014.
According to the complaint, the chase began when Hanover Twp. police spotted Douglas Johnson, 56, of Nanticoke, driving a stolen 2007 Dodge Nitro and tried to pull him over. A high-speed chase ensued, with Wilkes-Barre police entering the chase as Johnson drove on sidewalks and going the wrong way on a one-way street as he sought to avoid capture.
The chase ended at River and West Market streets in Wilkes-Barre after Johnson ran a red light and hit another vehicle that then smashed into Jackson’s vehicle, which was traveling westbound on Market Street.
The complaint alleges Jackson suffered traumatic brain injury, brain bleeding, memory loss, herniated disks, sight problems, pain and other injuries.
Johnson later pleaded guilty to charges of receiving stolen property and fleeing police in the case, and was sentenced to eight to 16 years in prison for those and other offenses.
Jackson’s lawsuit alleges police “improperly pursued Johnson” despite Johnson driving “dangerously and erratically” through rush-hour traffic.
The departments have denied any negligence in the case, arguing the injuries Jackson received were solely Johnson’s fault.
The one-week trial is set to begin Dec. 10 before Luzerne County Judge Lesa S. Gelb.
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