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Maryland Officer is Denied Immunity in Car Accident Lawsuit

A four-year court case revolving around a minor car accident involving a Maryland police officer and a third party was finally resolved on Tuesday of last week. The car crash occurred after the officer made an illegal u-turn on a one-way road, hoping to break up what he believed to be a drug sale.

Sued in civil court, the officer claimed immunity, which is given when officers are pursuing a suspect. The question the case then became, was he actually pursuing a suspect?

After years of differing opinions, Maryland's Court of Appeals ruled, "There must be at a minimum movement by a suspect or violator of the law, and reactive movement by the officer to apprehend said individual."

The court also ruled that, under this stipulation, the officer was not pursuing a suspect when he drove the wrong way, striking another car. He is therefore liable for the $12,000 won by the plaintiffs in civil court, though, as The Baltimore Sun reports, he was driving a state vehicle.

Therefore, the money will not actually be coming out of his pocket.

The judges did say that police officers should be able to claim immunity in cases where they are involved with "emergency service." The Sun noted, however that the judges qualified the statement by saying that the designation of "emergency" was not to be extended to all police business.

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