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Federal court affirms dismissal of Evansville case

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Gina Duwe
February 6, 2014

EVANSVILLE--The U.S. Court of Appeals has affirmed a district court's dismissal of a case against an officer and the city of Evansville brought by the family of an Evansville teen who died after a 2007 high-speed police chase.

Dane Wourms' father, Lawrence Wourms, filed the suit against officer Scott Fields and the city after Wourms, 16, died April 22, 2007, near Main Street and County M on Evansville's east side.

The family accused Fields of causing the crash by slamming his squad into Wourms' car. The family argued the crash constituted “unreasonable seizure” and violated Dane Wourms' Fourth Amendment rights.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb granted the city's motion for summary judgment in September 2012 and dismissed the case. The decision released Wednesday from the Western District of Wisconsin in Madison affirmed the summary judgment, meaning there is not enough proof to go forward with a trial, city attorney Mark Kopp said.

Fields left the Evansville Police Department in 2011.

According to court and police records:

Fields attempted to pull over Wourms' car in downtown Evansville after Wourms' mother called 911 saying her son was drunk and out of control. Wourms sped off after Fields turned on his emergency lights, speeding about 75 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to the accident reconstruction report.

Dane Wourms' blood alcohol level was 0.17—more than twice the legal limit to drive. He was not wearing a seatbelt and did not have a valid driver's license.

Fields said he lost sight of Wourms' car on East Main Street east of Water Street, turned around and drove back toward the city. Fields found Wourms' car on its roof 40 yards from the edge of Main Street, and Wourms' body on the ground outside the vehicle.

 

 



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