Columbus City Council approves wrongful death lawsuit

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The parents of Jaquese Harris are about to receive a check for $500,000. Harris died in October 2012 when she was hit by a police car in front of Ciroc nightclub on North Lumpkin Rd.

It sounds like a large figure, but according to Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson, the city could have paid a similar amount if they fought the lawsuit and won.  She says the decision to settle has two purposes.

"Make it right with the family, but also save the taxpayers the litigation costs, which would have been hundreds of thousands of dollars," says Tomlinson.

A photographer captured video of the scene right after the accident when the street was still closed off. The police department originally stated that the officer was responding to an emergency at the time of the accident, and it was the type that did not require lights and sirens to be activated. Since then, an independent investigation by the state concluded that the pedestrian's actions are what most contributed to the accident.

"The Georgia Bureau of Investigation determined that the officer was not at fault, because of the darkness of the street, the dark clothing, not crossing at a crosswalk, and things such as that.  Those are just things that we didn't want to litigate. There's been a young woman lost here, and we just wanted everyone to move on with their lives," says Tomlinson.

The police officer involved in the accident has since left the city. He is now working with a different police department.

That police officer's resignation was voluntary and he was not fired or asked to leave. It's also worth mentioning that the autopsy showed the woman was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. So according to officials, neither person involved was doing anything exceptionally wrong.

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