Judge eyes wrongful death in Waveland
By Dwayne Bremer
Jun 18, 2013, 19:14
Circuit Court Judge Roger Clark will decide if the city of Waveland is liable for the death of Francisco Jesus Mendoza, 33, who was killed when the bicycle he was riding was struck after a collision between a WPD police cruiser and another vehicle on Highway 90 in September 2009.
Attorneys for Mendoza's family and the other driver involved in the crash had both filed suit against the city of Waveland and Officer Daryl Russell.
Earlier this year, the two suits were combined and the charges against Russell in his individual capacity were dropped.
Last week, the case against the city was heard in Hancock County Circuit Court.
The case is a civil action and the plaintiffs are seeking relief under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act.
Local attorney Edward Gibson represented Mendoza's family at the trial and attorney Donald Rafferty represented John Baudoin, the driver of the other vehicle.
Waveland was represented by attorneys from the Mississippi Municipal Liability group, a state-wide pool into which the city pays for certain types of litigation.
On the evening of Sept. 21, 2009, Russell was responding to an assistance call from Bay St. Louis concerning a strong-arm robber who had just robbed a convenience store on Turner Street.
Authorities said Russell spotted Mendoza riding a bicycle near the Bay St. Louis post office, and Russell attempted to make a turn at Highway 90 and Bouslog Street to try to talk with Mendoza.
Moments later, Russell's cruiser was struck by Baudoin's Cadillac Escalade, which collided with Mendoza, throwing him off the bicycle and killing him, officials said.
Mendoza was not involved in the store robbery, officials said.
During testimony last week, both the plaintiffs and the city presented experts who issued various theories of how the accident happened and who was at fault. The city claimed that Baudoin was speeding and his alleged recklessness was a contributing factor in the accident. The plaintiffs presented a theory that Russell caused the accident by making a wrong turn and that Baudoin had a right to be in the lane of traffic in which he was traveling.
Testimony in the trial lasted for two days.
The case was a "bench trial" and not heard by a jury. Clark took the case under advisement and will issue a ruling after reviewing the facts and findings of the case, officials said.