A multi-million dollar claim has been filed in the matter of a prominent Kingman citizen who was fatally injured when her vehicle was struck by a suspect who was fleeing pursuing law enforcement officers. At the heart of the civil action is the plaintiff contention that agencies and officers involved were negligent by initiating and failing to terminate a high speed pursuit that endangered the general public. The claim stems from the April 22 death of Linda Chevalier, 66. She died at Kingman Regional Medical Center of massive trauma sustained in a two vehicle collision at 5:00 p.m. at the intersection of Packard Avenue and Bond Street. The claim is filed on behalf of Chevalier’s widowed husband, David, and other surviving family members. It demands payment of $15.2-million to settle the matter and prevent it from moving to Court in the form of a lawsuit. Named as defendants are the state of Arizona, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the GIITEM task force, Mohave County and the City of Kingman. The claim filed by the law offices of Doug Sutherland in Kingman and Joel Robbins in Phoenix includes some facts not in dispute. It asserts that Robert Dodd, 51, Kingman, was wanted on three warrants for various alleged criminal infractions. And it contends that the pursuit evolved from Arizona Department of Public Safety sergeant Ernie Severson’s recognition that the white Nissan Versa he spotted was likely driven by Dodd. The claim details Severson’s four minute-long pursuit of the Nissan in his unmarked car through rural and residential areas at speeds sometimes reaching between 60-75 miles per hour. It ended when Dodd ran a stop sign and broadsided the vehicle Chevalier was driving southbound on Bond Street. The claim, in part, alleged that the pursuit was unlawful and unreasonable because it occurred at speeds far in excess of the legal limit, and because it violated agency policies to terminate suspect chases when the general public is endangered. “The pursuit of this car thief should have been terminated,” the claim asserted. “It is claimed that the excessive speed used in the pursuit and the pursuit caused the resulting collision with Linda Chevalier.” The claim also alleged negligence for agency failures to apprehend Dodd on prior occasions which would have preempted the pursuit in question. The claim focuses mostly on Severson, a DPS sergeant assigned to the GITTEM task force, but does not detail the chase related involvements of other officers from other agencies. Sheriff’s office reports indicate peripheral, secondary and agency assist-related involvements in the incident. Deputy David Kinion’s narrative indicated GIITEM officers were already arresting Dodd and his female passenger when he arrived on scene, and that he worked to try to save Chevalier’s life. Sheriff’s office narratives also indicate that a small baggie with suspected dangerous drug crystals fell from Dodd’s person as he was being transported to the local hospital in an ambulance. Further, that another baggie with suspected drug residue was provided by a doctor who attended to Dodd at the hospital. In addition to charges from several unrelated cases, Dodd faces prosecution for second degree murder, possession of dangerous drugs and other charges related to the Chevalier crash. A memo from the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office revealed that a deputy spoke to Dodd’s girlfriend five days before the Chevalier crash. Sergeant Sue Callahan, a Patrol Supervisor, informed then-Chief Deputy Jim McCabe that the woman who had a history as a reliable informant was willing to provide information regarding the whereabouts of her fugitive boyfriend in exchange for being allowed to “skate” on a misdemeanor warrant. Callahan’s memo indicated that a member of the GIITEM task was advised of the informant and that GIITEM officers swiftly moved to arrest her and broadcast her name during police radio traffic known to be monitored by Dodd. “To say the least I was completely shocked and a bit angry that GIITEM burned our informant,” Callahan’s memo said. “It truly felt like this was not a team effort, but instead a competition to catch the big fish.” The claim details the personal history of Chevalier and her 46 year-long marriage to David who retired after a prominent role in the Mohave County Treasurer’s Office. The couple had three daughters, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild at the time of Linda’s death. The couple moved to Kingman in 1986 and Linda worked for the Kingman Unified School District and earned an impressive resume of community involvements. The claim said Linda was returning home after providing in-home health care to an elderly man when the tragic crash occurred. Named parties or their legal representatives have 60 days to respond to a claim. Following that, plaintiffs are free to formally file civil litigation in the appropriate venue.
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