BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A claim has been filed against the city of Bakersfield on behalf of the families of a man killed and a woman severely injured in a crash on South Vineland Road involving a police car.
The claim — a precursor to a lawsuit — alleges the police vehicle was “traveling at an excessive speed” on southbound South Vineland Road and ran a stop sign or failed to clear the intersection at Muller Road, hitting a westbound Honda Accord. It says the police car’s “sirens and/or overhead lights” weren’t activated.
Mario Lares, 31, the driver of the Accord, was killed and passenger Ana Hernandez, 34, suffered serious injuries. Lares did not have a stop sign.
Filed Feb. 23 by attorneys with Rodriguez & Associates, the claim says Officer Ricardo Robles was the driver in the Jan. 19 crash.
However, Patrick Benitez of the law office firm said Friday they have “no concrete evidence” Robles was the driver, but deduced it from California Highway Patrol documents. The other officer in the vehicle has been identified as Travione Cobbins.
CHP initially identified Robles as the driver but later said it hadn’t been determined which officer was driving. Neither the CHP nor the Bakersfield Police Department has identified the driver.
The CHP in a warrant recommended a manslaughter charge be filed against the driver of the police car. Neither Robles nor Cobbins had been charged as of Friday.
The claim alleges negligence and recklessness on Robles’ part, saying he failed to follow Bakersfield Police Department standards, policies and procedures. It also says the city inadequately trains officers on driving tactics, “proper pursuit” and responding to emergency calls.
The law firm Chain Cohn Clark initially represented Hernandez. A spokesman on Friday said he could not comment as to her change of representation.
It’s believed the officers were responding to a chase involving a stolen vehicle at the time of the crash.
The claim seeks an unspecified amount of money in general and special damages. The city has 45 days from the date of filing to respond.