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Lawsuit: Police were 'extreme' in chase, crash

Posted at 8:01 PM, Sep 30, 2015

BATAVIA, Ohio – A married couple is blaming police for their injuries after they said a suspected drug dealer crashed into their car during a high-speed chase.

Donald and Judith Felty filed a lawsuit against Goshen Township, Miami Township and several police officers last month over a crash that occurred in January 2014. They claimed the conduct of officers was “extreme and outrageous” and against their chief's orders.

Before the crash, Sgt. Ronald Robinson held a meeting with Goshen officers to plan an operation to bust a suspected drug dealer from Dayton using a criminal informant, according to the complaint.

Originally, police planned to hold the operation at an abandoned mobile home, but they decided against it because they believed the suspected drug dealer was armed and “capable of rash actions,” the complaint states.

Instead, police opted to use a traffic stop to catch the suspect. Police Chief Ray Snyder, recognizing “that a pursuit would be unreasonably dangerous,” ordered the officers not to pursue if the man fled, according to the complaint.

At about 2:18 p.m. Jan. 10, 2014, Officer Bucksath tried to pull over the suspected dealer on eastbound Route 128. The lawsuit states the suspect “executed a dangerous U-turn, accelerated to dangerous speeds and fled.” Bucksath also made a U-turn and pursued the driver, the complaint states.

Attornies said Goshen Officers Dillion West, Cody Collier and Timothy Bodai joined in the chase, and Bucksath reached speeds as fast as 107 miles per hour in pursuit of the suspect.

At Sgt. Robinson’s direction, Miami Township Officer Ryan Frasher deployed stop sticks in an attempt to catch the speeding driver as the chase continued. The lawsuit states the suspect hit them while going 85 miles per hour or faster. His vehicle then collided with several vehicles, including the Feltys’.

The Feltys suffered “severe bodily injury” and “emotional distress” as a result of the crash, as well as $200,000 in medical costs, according to their complaint.

They’re seeking compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering, punitive damages and legal fees.

"It's a situation which was very avoidable, should have never occurred," the Feltys' attorney, Stacey Graus, said. "I don't know what was so important about luring this gentleman to bring drugs from Dayton into the Goshen Township jurisdiction."

Goshen Township and the Goshen officers denied having any liability in the incident and denied most of the points alleged in the complaint. They wrote, in a response to the suit, that the Feltys’ injuries “were directly and proximately caused by [the Feltys’] own comparative fault, or contributory negligence…”

The township and police pointed to state laws that protect municipalities and police responding to emergency calls.

The complaint, however, alleges there was "no emergency" call in this case because police knew the suspect “might flee at the time they organized the operation, and determined that (the suspected drug dealer) should not be pursued.”

Miami Township and Officer Frasher also denied most of the allegations in their answer to the complaint.