Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Suit against Sheriff in pedestrian death tossed

Posted on Tue, May 8, 2012 at 3:22 PM

The Court of Appeals ruled today that a Spokane Sheriff's deputy was not negligent in allowing a man to walk on an icy street, even though he was later hit by a drunk driver.

The suit was filed by Delores Weaver, a relative of Duane Weaver, who was killed in 2008 on North Division Street. An hour and a half prior to his death, Weaver had been contacted by Deputy Mark Melville. Melville saw him struggling to walk in the road.

When he talked to Weaver, Melville stated that he didn't have probable cause to conduct a breathalyzer test on him because he did not appear to be intoxicated. He did tell Weaver to walk facing traffic, rather than with his back to it.

Later in that night, Weaver was hit, and died 17 months later.

"Mr. Weaver's estate ... sued Spokane County for negligence, claiming that the deputy's failure to take Mr. Weaver into protective custody breached the duty owed to him," the Court of Appeals decision says.

A Superior Court judge dismissed it, and the three-justice appeal court was also unconvinced.

"Deputy Melville warned Mr. Weaver to stay off Division Street because it was too busy. Deputy Melville did not fail to exercise reasonable care," they concluded.

The family has 30 days to petition the appeal to the state Supreme Court. 

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