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Victims of fatal crash caused by police chase suing officers, city of Cincinnati

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 18:15:35-04

CINCINNATI — The families of Raymond and Gayle Laible, alongside Steven and Maribeth Klein, have filed suit against the city of Cincinnati and the specific Cincinnati Police officers involved in the high speed chase that ended in a fatal crash.

The Laibles were sitting outside Press on Monmouth cafe when the car leading the pursuit veered off the road and killed them; the Kleins were walking on the sidewalk and were seriously injured in the crash.

Court documents from the incident said officials with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in conjunction with Cincinnati Police and the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force were conducting surveillance on 28-year-old Mason Meyer in Cincinnati on Aug. 7 when Meyer drove away.

That led to the deadly pursuit as Cincinnati Police officers chased a fleeing Meyer through Lower Price Hill and Downtown Cincinnati over the Roebling Bridge into Covington and Newport.

The suit names officers Timothy Lanter, Brett Thomas and Donald Scalf, the city of Cincinnati and Mason Meyer. The suit also names Austin LaGory, who owned the car driven during the pursuit, but wasn't in it during the chase.

The suit alleges the chase was led by Lanter, who'd been tailing Meyer and attempted a traffic stop. It states Lanter initiated the pursuit and was later joined by Thomas as they pursued Meyer through downtown streets and into Kentucky.

The suit alleges that, during the chase, as police pursued Meyer across the Roebling Bridge into Covington, Meyer nearly collided with an SUV, sideswiped another vehicle and "nearly causing a head-on collision with a motorcyclist."

Body cam footage from the chase also showed police officers zipping through a back alley, inches from nearby homes.

A 911 call made by the driver of the sideswiped vehicle said she was trying to pull over for police on the highway when Meyer hit her.

The crash "occurred in full view of Defendant Lanter," the suit states. "However, despite the obvious and actualized danger of continuing the pursuit, Defendant Lanter chose to continue the pursuit."

The officers chased Meyer at rates of over 100 mph, the suit alleges, while running red lights and speeding through intersections and the wrong way down one-way streets.

Thomas radioed to Lanter and Scalf that Meyer's tires seemed to be "going down, it looks like," which the suit claims the officers should have known would increase the risk of Meyer losing control of the vehicle.

In cruiser camera footage of the chase, Meyer's tires were smoking as he drove through The Banks.

Despite doing so once reaching Ccovington, officers neither asked for authorization nor were granted it to travel the wrong way down one-way streets, the lawsuit states. Five and a half minutes into the chase, Lanter did authorize pursuit the wrong way on Greenup St., "despite not having the authority to do so," the suit continued.

Ultimately, the suit accuses officers of failing to end the pursuit "when it became clear that the fleeing vehicle was not slowing or stopping and that it was instead continually placing other vehicles, their occupants and pedestrians at clear risk of injury or death."

On the day of the crash, Cincinnati Police chief Eliot Isaac said there would be an investigation into police actions as part of their review, something he said is a standard practice following a pursuit.

"Pursuits are always a concern. Because of the nature of the crimes the individuals commit, we can’t allow them to just roam free. However, we have to be mindful of public safety," he said at the time.