- Natasha Chen, KIRO7.com
A former soldier has sued the Tacoma Police Department and an officer who ran him over in June 2014.
Emanuel Andrade, 26, filed the suit June 8 in Pierce County Superior Court.
At the time, Tacoma police said that in the early morning hours of June 14, 2014, an officer was scanning license plates and checking for car prowlers when he accidentally ran over Andrade. Police said Andrade had drunkenly laid on the ground.
Andrade’s lawsuit alleges the officer, Luke Faulkner, had been “typing into his service computer” to communicate with another officer. The suit said he was “discussing food, Pho – what it was and where they might get it” in the minutes leading up to the accident.
The suit acknowledges that Andrade had been out with his friends at restaurants and bars on 6th Street, and that Andrade had been drinking.
In a surveillance video first obtained by KIRO 7, one can see Andrade walking to a car, then lying down in the middle of the 600 block of North Fife Street. The patrol car approaches, inching forward slowly, and at one point coming to a full stop, with headlights shining on Andrade on the ground. Then, the patrol car accelerates and comes to a stop only after both sets of wheels have run over him.
KIRO 7 interviewed Andrade’s wife two days after the incident.
Andrade provided a written statement through his attorney:
“With the support of my family and doctors, I continue to receive treatment for my injuries allowing me to do as many activities as possible and to support my family.”
Andrade has gone through extensive medical treatment and suffers from permanent disabilities, including what his attorney believes is a traumatic brain injury.
He was medically discharged from JBLM in 2015, a year after the accident.
“It’s real easy to focus on Mr. Andrade being there, able to be run over. What if it were a small child that fell, struck his head and was unconscious? What if it was an epileptic that had a fit and was on the roadway?” said Daryl L. Graves, Andrade’s attorney. “The bottom line is whoever was there, for whatever reason, they deserve the person approaches them in a vehicle to be doing so in a manner which does not endanger them unnecessarily. So if you look outside the vehicle, it helps to not endanger them.”
Washington state law states that people driving emergency vehicles, including police cars, are exempt from distracted driving laws. That exemption was in existence at the time of the incident and still applies as the new state law prohibiting texting while driving takes effect this month.
Graves said they are not alleging that the officer broke any laws. He said they are claiming the officer did not use reasonable caution to look out the window before driving over a person on the ground.
KIRO 7 interviewed a witness at the time, Duane Maggraf, who was sitting on some steps smoking a cigarette when he saw the incident.
Upon hearing of the new development, Magraff told KIRO 7 he feels the Tacoma Police Department should pay for Andrade’s medical bills, but that the officer shouldn’t lose his job.
Maggraf said he still remembers thinking that the officer had stopped the car in order to get out and cite the man. Instead, he was surprised to see the car accelerate.
Maggraf said, “The policeman that ran him over says, ‘I looked back in my rear view mirror to see what I ran over.’ And he goes, ‘it was a human being.’”
Graves said the medical costs may be more than $1 million.