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Hearing ends for La Crosse officer involved in fatal accident

The job of a police officer is to protect and serve the public, so it can be jarring to hear that the actions of a law enforcement officer result in the death of an innocent person. These issues were at hand in a recent court case in La Crosse.

The hearing to determine whether a former La Crosse policewoman could be reinstated to the police force concluded recently, but no decision was announced. The ex-police officer was fired from her job a year ago for violating police policy in the fatal car accident that caused the death of a Holmen 16-year-old.

The woman was on Highway 35 when another police officer requested help at a bar. While responding to the call, she ran a red light going 90 miles per hour and crashed into the 16-year-old, who died at the scene. An internal investigation of the incident concluded the officer violated department policies, and her employment was terminated.

She appealed the dismissal, but it was upheld by the County Administrator. The woman then filed an appeal with the Wisconsin Employee Relations Committee, which held a closed hearing on the case in late August.

It wasn't reported whether the teen's family has filed a wrongful death suit against the officer, the police department or the city. If the family hired an attorney to litigate a civil case, the officer could be held liable for funeral costs and medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering. The police investigation and testimony provided at the hearings could be used in court to support the plaintiff's case. In the meantime, it may be several months before a decision regarding the officer's reinstatement is reached.

Source: La Crosse Tribune, "Stratman hearing concludes; no decision announced," Aug. 24, 2012

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