Police officers blamed for fatal accidents in Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers

A former police officer who caused a fatal Fort Lauderdale pedestrian accident has been sentenced to 60 days in jail, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

The officer was found not guilty of vehicular homicide during a trial last month in which the jury convicted him of misdemeanor reckless driving. The officer was also sentenced to six months probation, fined $250 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

The officer had just gone off duty and was headed home shortly after 5 a.m. in June 2006. He was traveling down Federal Highway at speeds of up to 90 mph when he slammed into a pedestrian, throwing her 112 feet.

Jurors never learned that the officer was fired from the department in August 2007 after an internal investigation determined he drove his cruiser 90 mph or faster in the month before the accident and that he twice reached speeds of 114 mph or faster on A1A.

Car accidents involving law enforcement officers in South Florida are a fairly common occurrence. Earlier this month, we reported the case of a woman who was hit on her scooter by a Palm Beach sheriff’s van.

And ABC 7 is reporting that authorities are investigating whether an improper police pursuit led to a deadly Fort Myers car accident.

In that case, deputies were chasing two burglary suspects last July when an unmarked sheriff’s SUV hit and killed a motorist. The accident occurred in a 45 mph zone on Palm Beach Boulevard, while the deputy’s speed was estimated at 84 mph.

The media account said a copy of the sheriff’s operating manual says unmarked sheriff’s vehicles “shall not be engaged in high speed pursuits except under extreme and extenuating circumstances.”

Motorists have a legal obligation to pull over for emergency vehicles with activated lights. But law enforcement has an obligation, first and foremost, to the safety of the motoring public. When a motorist is seriously injured or killed in a car accident with a law enforcement vehicle, he or she may be entitled to compensation for injuries, medical bills, pain and suffering and rehabilitation.