High speed chase leads to another suit against Alton PD

By Steve Gonzalez | Apr 7, 2005

The Alton Police Department is once again faced with civil action after a high-speed chase ended up causing severe injuries for an innocent bystander.

Delphya A. Coleman filed a six-count $300,000 suit April 7 seeking actual and punitive damages in Madison County Circuit Court.

She is represented by Mark Schuver and William Niehoff of Mathis, Marifian, Richter & Grandy of Belleville.

Coleman claims that Alton Police were in pursuit of Dennis Lackey--whose speed reached 80 miles per hour in city streets--on May 24, 2004. Lackey ran a red light, striking the Toyota Camry in which Coleman and Cedric Cox were passengers. The accident took place at Route 3 and Route 143 in Wood River.

Cox filed suit March 8 in Madison County Circuit Court seeking more than $400,000 for injuries he received during the incident.

The high speed chase took place "over roadways in Alton which were being traveled by innocent pedestrians, car drivers, and bystanders subjecting the innocent people including herself to the risk of grievous bodily harm," the suit states.

According to the complaint, Cox claims Alton Police committed the following willful and wanton, and reckless acts of misconduct:

  • Continued the pursuit of Lackey with reckless disregard for the safety of the general public when they knew that continuing the pursuit posed a severe danger to the public by traveling at speeds in excess of 80 m.p.h. through residential areas;

  • Continued the pursuit when they concluded Lackey was drunk;

  • Failed to terminate the pursuit when they knew the risks associated with continuing were greater than the public safety benefit from the capture of Lackey; and

  • Conducted a high speed road chase through residential areas with high population density when they believed Lackey to be drunk.

    According to the complaint, Coleman sustained a closed fracture of her pubis, fracture of the spine, spinal cord lesions, pulmonary insufficiency, severe injuries to internal organs, open wounds on her head and scalp, fractures of the vertebrae, diaphragmatic rupture, sacral fracture, lumbar spine transverse process fractures, and large pneumo-thorax effusions.

    Coleman also claims she lacerated her spleen, has bilateral hematomas, suffered a puncture would to her right hip, left respiratory failure, required a tracheotomy, became dependent on a respirator, and had a feeding tube inserted.

    She states she sustained enormous medical expenses in treating her injuries, and will have to spend even more in the future, including rehabilitation costs. The suit claims she has been unable to work since the day of the accident. Her earning capacity has been permanently diminished, and she has lost significant wages.

    “The injuries caused great pain and suffering, disfigurement, disability, mental anguish, emotional trauma, loss of a normal life, and the injuries are severe and permanent,” the complaint states.

    The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Andy Matoesian.

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