Councilors to Consider Wrongful Death Settlement

Councilors to Consider Wrongful Death Settlement

W.F. City Councilors to Consider Wrongful Death Settlement in Whitefield Crash
 The city of Wichita Falls has prepared a financial settlement for families of two girls killed in  a fatal crash  involving a Wichita Falls police officer.
    On Tuesday, city councilors will be asked to approve the half-a-million-dollar settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit for the June crash that killed the teens and an unborn baby.

Katie Crosbie joins us now with the latest.

    In considering this settlement, Assistant City Attorney Julia Vasquez says the city is not admitting guilt on the part of the city or officer  Teddie Whitefield.
    Whitefield had been appealing his suspension.
    But Assistant City Attorney Julia Vasquez says he withdrew his civil service appeal about a month ago ... so she says that hearing has been cancelled.
    Texas law says for a city the size of Wichita Falls, in a case such as this, victims' families can sue for a maximum of 250- thousand dollars per person ... And Texas law considers the unborn child a person.
    So that total would be 750-thousand dollars.
    But the amount is *capped* at 500- thousand for a single incident.
    So, whether the case went to trial or not ... Half a million would be the maximum amount the families could receive.
    The father of Lopez's unborn child signed his legal rights to the Lopez family ...
    Lopez's brother was standing by the side of the road and could file for bystander claims -- the families have agreed on how to divide the settlement :
    Gloria Montoya's family would receive 225-thousand dollars ... Yeni Lopez's family would get 225-thousand, and Yeni Lopez's brother would get 50-thousand.

Gloria Montoya's older sister, Veronica, spoke to us ...



Whitefield was suspended indefinitely -- without pay -- in August.
    A DPS spokesperson this morning told us they had released all they had to the D.A.'s office but were still waiting on some minor things to complete the  final accident report.
   And a DPS sergeant also told us they had turned over everything they had so far but were still waiting on a couple of lab tests on specific items before typing up the final report.
     But DPS officials later clarified that when they say turned over or released they meant they had verbally  *briefed* the D.A.'s office .... but have not actually filed any paperwork.
    District Attorney Maureen Shelton said she has been briefed on the accident by a reconstruction  sergeant. 
    But she says DPS must file a case packet in order for the DA's office to present to the grand jury.
    Reports showed Whitefield was driving faster than 80 miles an hour in a 45 mile per hour zone-- and was not responding to a call.
    The police department had also found Whitefield did not tell his supervisor he was taking medication that could impact his ability to work.
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