AUSTIN (KXAN) – On April 22 an Austin police officer turned on his lights and sirens, crossed over a median and entered the intersection at Brodie Lane and West William Cannon, dash camera video and a crash report shows. A pickup truck then slammed into the side of the police SUV.
Two passengers in the truck that hit the Austin Police Department vehicle are now suing the City of Austin, their driver, and the officer driving the SUV.
Christopher Renfro and Graciela Renfro say they were in the truck and that Austin Police Officer Michael Nguyen, the driver of the SUV, was negligent for crossing a median, entering an intersection that was not clear, and failing to brake and avoid the collision.
The lawsuit also alleges the city refuses to accept responsibility for the crash. Although they view the officer and the city as mainly responsible, Christopher Renfro and Graciela Renfro are also suing their driver, Jason Roche.
A Texas Department of Transportation Crash report obtained by KXAN indicates the officer was driving with lights in sirens and responding to a call about a man threatening people with knives in a parking lot. Later that night, an officer would shoot and kill a 29-year-old man who police say ran at the officer with knives in his hands. That happened at around 10:22 p.m. the crash at Brodie and William Cannon happened at 9:21 p.m., according to police and dashboard camera video. Police said that before the shooting police were alerted to a man with a knife at the Dollar General in the 700 block of W. Stassney Lane. It is unclear if this is the call the officer in the crash was heading toward. However, the Dollar General store was in the direction the Officer Nguyen was heading and the timing of the call matches APD’s previous statements.
The crash report also indicated the officer was operating under Code 3.
Here is APD’s Code 3 police policy:
(a) When operating Code 3, officers may:
1. Exceed the speed limit but must regulate their speed so as not to endanger life or property.
2. Proceed with caution through traffic signals and stop signs after slowing and, if necessary, stopping to ensure the intersection is safe/clear.
3. Disregard laws governing direction of movement and turning when it can be done safely
KXAN News reached out to the driver in the story who tells us his attorney is preparing a statement. Members of the Austin Police Department and Austin Police Association have not yet responded to request for an interview. KXAN also sent an email to a spokesperson with the City of Austin this afternoon who says the city is looking into KXAN’s request.