Video of fatal crash to help train Houston police cadets
As pictures of a smiling woman, a badly smashed Toyota Scion and
footage from other fatal police wrecks appear on the video, a man's
solemn voice repeatedly implores Houston Police Department officers to
use "good judgment" to avoid deadly consequences for themselves and
That narrator is Fernando
Medrano, who lost his mother - noted Baylor College of Medicine
researcher Estela Medrano - in 2010 when an officer traveling in the
dark without emergency lights or siren crashed into the passenger side
of a vehicle where she was seated.
This training year, all HPD
cadets and officers will view the film as part of the city's settlement
with the 67-year-old scientist's husband, Jorge Medrano, and the
couple's four sons to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit accusing rookie
patrolman Kyle Dozier of negligence in speeding more than 80 mph in a 35
zone to a "Priority 2" call.
The 3-minute video, "Drive
Safely, Drive Smart," has been incorporated into the department's
"driving an emergency vehicle" educational unit.
The narrator states that
although Texas law allows officers to exceed the posted speed limit,
they must do so with the "appropriate and due regard for the safety of
others" and should consider four factors: environmental, road
conditions, mechanical conditions of the patrol car and the ability of
other drivers to judge the speed of an approaching emergency vehicle or
react to its approach.
"Please remember that using
good judgment in weighing all these factors may help to prevent a
collision. A collision may have catastrophic consequences for you, your
family and families like mine," Fernando Medrano says.
A grand jury in 2011
declined to indict Dozier, who broke his neck in the crash. Jorge
Medrano, a retired chemist in his 70s who was driving the Scion, was
The footage includes video
showing a 2009 T-bone crash involving a police cruiser in Connecticut
that killed two 19-year-olds. The officer, who had not been on his way
to an emergency call, was fired and charged with two counts of
manslaughter. (He was found guilty of misconduct with a motor vehicle
and reckless driving. He was sentenced in January to five years in
The video also shows a
28-year-old Las Vegas officer's photo and headstone. He was driving more
than 100 mph in a 45 mph zone without lights or siren in 2009 before
his fatal crash.
Estela Medrano, also shown
snuggling with a young granddaughter, held a doctorate in chemistry and
was a Huffington Center on Aging distinguished professor. She was
"working to find the causes of cancer and other age-related diseases,"
the voiceover explains.
"I believe that my mother
would be alive today if the officer had used good judgment and turned on
his emergency lights and siren," the narrator says, as the crunched
vehicle appears for a second time. "Our family urges you to use good
judgment in deciding whether to exceed the speed limit and in deciding
whether to use your emergency lights and siren. We don't want you to be
injured or killed and we don't want any other families to suffer the way
our family has suffered."
The video concludes with two final messages on the screen: Think about your family. And the public you serve.
Earlier this year,
City Attorney David Feldman called the unusual settlement, which
included a $262,500 payment approved by City Council in December, "the
right thing to do," but HPD has no obligation to show the film beyond
Aug. 31, 2014.
Houston attorney Richard
LaGarde, who represents the Medranos, said they hope the department will
continue to use the video in training sessions.