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Judge denies state's request to dismiss MSP car chase lawsuit

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A judge has denied the government’s request to dismiss a lawsuitover the Michigan State Police car chase policy.

The judge’s decision allows the lawsuit to move forward, though the state may appeal the ruling.

The suit seeks damages for the families of innocent bystanders who were seriously injured or killed in accidents involving cars fleeing state troopers in Flint. 

Attorney Michael Pitt says the pursuit policy is racially biased, citing data showing troopers are more likely to chase drivers in African-American communities than white communities.

“The judge agreed with us…determined it was a bonafide civil rights case,” says Pitt.

During a court hearing earlier this month, the attorney for the state told the judge the officers are protected by governmental immunity. He added the MSP’s car chase policy was changed after the accidents in Flint.

The state issued a brief statement on the judge’s ruling denying their request to have the lawsuit dismissed.

“We are reviewing the judge’s decision with our client and will determine next steps,” says Megan Hawthorne, spokeswoman in the Michigan Attorney General’s office. 

The state has several weeks to appeal the judge’s decision. But a different decision in the meantime may have a more significant effect on the direction of the case.

On Nov. 6th, voters will select Michigan’s next Attorney General.  

Attorney Michael Pitt says the new Attorney General might not want to pursue the case

“Given the severity of the injuries and the terrible impact that these accidents have had on the lives of Flint residents…they may want to try and resolve the cases,” suggests Pitt.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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