CLEARWATER — A family is seeking damages from the city of Clearwater for injuries they said they received in a car crash that they blame on “a silent high speed pursuit” by city police.
The city denies there was a pursuit and a crash report indicates two of three plaintiffs did not report injuries on the scene.
The collision occurred around 10:20 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2019, as John Boshoff, 73, was driving west on Drew Street near North Glenwood Avenue. Also in the 2012 Audi A7 were Boshoff’s son and daughter-in-law, Grant and Venussa Boshoff.
Police in city cruisers approached, headed north on Glenwood and chasing a speeding 2008 Chevrolet Impala, the suit says. The driver of the Impala failed to stop at a stop sign and was struck by the westbound Audi.
The Impala was traveling at about 50 mph, the suit says.
The Audi struck a wall after impact, the accident report said. The Impala hit a palm tree and a mailbox before stopping. The driver fled the scene, according to the report.
The Impala driver is not named in the suit, though he is listed as a defendant along with the city of Clearwater. The officers are not identified, either. Also named as a defendant is Anthony Lloyd Derks of Land O’ Lakes, who owned the Impala but was not driving it, the suit said.
Among damages suffered by John, Grant and Venussa Boshoff, the suit said, were bodily injury, disfigurement, exacerbation of a pre-existing condition and medical costs.
John and Grant Boshoff “did not complain of injury” and were not taken to a local hospital, the accident report said. Venussa Boshoff was taken to Bayfront Medical Center for “precautionary reasons,” the report says.
The city contests the claim that police were involved in a high-speed pursuit, assistant city attorney Paul Richard Hull told the Tampa Bay Times.
“This guy took off from an incident where he was under surveillance and there was no pursuit as such,” Hull said.
Police declined to comment on the suit, as with all pending litigation, spokesman Rob Shaw said.
Under city policy, police pursuits are only authorized in cases involving a violent felony or when the danger of a pursuit is deemed to be less than the danger of allowing a suspect to remain at large.
“The reality is that there are standards,” said Peter A. Sartes, the Boshoff family’s lawyer.
Police were pursuing the suspect at slow speeds when an officer working an unrelated case saw him approach and placed a spike strip in the path of the car, Sartes said. The strip blew out the right front tire. The suspect later fled on foot.
The attorney declined to comment on his clients’ injuries, but said injuries can commonly develop after a crash.
A phone number associated with Derks was disconnected. Court documents indicate Derks could not be located and served with notice of the suit.