Crazy Video Cop Sued After Shooting Woman in Eye
A Utah police officer is facing a lawsuit over a 2012 shooting in which a female driver was wounded in the eye.
Kristine Biggs Johnson claims Morgan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Daniel Peay used "unreasonable, improper, unnecessary, and excessive deadly force" following a 40-mile chase.
Johnson, who lost her left eye in the shooting, says she doesn't remember anything about what took place due to either head trauma or intoxication.
During Thursday a news conference announcing the lawsuit, Johnson told reporters that she has no memory of the traumatic event, saying doctors believe either head trauma or alcohol use were to blame.
The last memory the California woman has of that November night was when she was in Evanston, Wyoming. She had her dog, her possessions and a bottle of vodka in her truck — "I hadn’t opened it and I had no plans to," she recalled Thursday.
When Morgan County sheriff’s authorities encountered her as she drove through their county, she was drunk and wouldn’t pull over after a deputy tried to stop her for having a broken headlight.
Johnson sped away, beginning a 40-mile chase into Davis County. At some point during the chase, officers placed spike strips on the road, which ripped off three of Johnson’s tires. The chase ended at a cul-de-sac near 700 E. Cottonwood near South Weber.
Johnson made a U-turn and struck two police cruisers that had followed her. A third cruiser also blocked her exit, the lawsuit states. Dashcam video shows Peay getting out of his cruiser and approaching Johnson’s truck as she tries to back out of the cluster of cars. Then, as the truck pulls forward a few yards and hits one of the cruisers, Peay’s gunfire can be heard.
Her attorney calls this a textbook case of an officer using excessive force, arguing Peay was never in the path of the truck and was not in imminent danger.
Prosecutors found the shooting to be unjustified, but did not bring charges against Peay.
An attorney representing the county in the lawsuit said Peay's actions "were thoroughly justified."
On "Happening Now," former prosecutor Fred Tecce and defense attorney Esther Panitch gave us their take.
Tecce believes the claims will be tough to prove for Johnson, since her vehicle was moving toward the officer when he fired.
Panitch, however, said it's arguable whether the officer needed to aim for Johnson's head in order to stop her.