TAMPA — A judge's $9.14 million ruling against an officer involved in a 2005 crash will have no bearing on his employment with Tampa police, an agency police spokeswoman said.
Kenneth Petrillo was a deputy with the Pasco County Sheriff's Office when he crashed into a Honda Accord on Jan. 3, 2005, after running a red light during a chase of a DUI suspect.
A judge ruled Friday that Petrillo was negligent and victim Jennifer Wohlgemuth is entitled to millions in damages after she suffered a brain injury that her attorney said leaves her unable to care for herself.
Petrillo joined Tampa police in September 2007 after 11 years with Pasco County, according to his personnel file. In that time, he has had strong reviews. Nine months after joining the department, he was lauded by a supervisor as someone who "conducts himself as a veteran officer would and takes great pride in his work."
Petrillo also is a co-founder of K9 Forensics Recovery Team, Inc., a voluntary canine search team specializing in detecting human remains.
A key disagreement in the lawsuit was whether Petrillo activated his siren and lights when he joined the chase. He said in a sworn statement that he did, but Wohlgemuth's attorney said a witness testified otherwise.
Petrillo was not wearing his seat belt, as agency policy required. Nor did he have his supervisor's permission to join the chase.
The judge's ruling should not affect his standing in Tampa, police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said.