BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – James McLaughlin was driving westbound on Walden Avenue on August 4, 2012, when suddenly at Koons Avenue, a Buffalo Police cruiser ran a stop sign in front of him, and McLaughlin slammed his Cadillac into the patrol car, injuring both drivers.
McLaughlin filed a Notice of Claim against the city and then a lawsuit, seeking damages for injuries as well as his pain and suffering. McLaughlin’s attorneys noted the cruiser’s siren was silent and the flashing lights did not come on until after the collision.
But the city filed a counterclaim against McLaughlin, citing the official Buffalo Police Accident Report, where an investigating officer noted the cruiser was “a police marked car was using overhead lights and siren.”
Then McLaughlin’s attorneys obtained surveillance video showing the accident, through a Freedom of Information Law request, which tells a different story.
Steve Boyd, one of McLaughlin’s attorneys says, “The tape is silent. We can’t say whether the sirens were on, but it seems pretty clear that without the lights, it would strongly suggest there were no sirens on.”
There is even video from a separate angle, taken by a second camera, that also shows no lights are flashing on the police car until after the accident.
The video was recorded from cameras on the outside of Big Moe’s tire shop at the corner of Koons and Walden, but initially, city officials claimed there was no video.
Boyd and his law partner John Elmore are representing McLaughlin in his lawsuit against the city. Elmore says the video is pretty clear “of a police car without lights on, running through a stop sign, and then there was a ‘t-bone’ collision at that intersection, where my client was seriously injured.”
Elmore says the police officer Joseph Doxbeck was also seriously injured, and has not returned to work. But Elmore says McLaughlin can’t work either, and faces years of rehabilitation for something that was not his fault.
Elmore adds McLaughlin faces, “difficult walking, difficult sitting, a difficult time standing. He has a wife and a family, and he is just a guy that is in constant pain.”
Boyd wondered aloud why city lawyers would initiate a counterclaim, considering the video evidence.
“We were very surprised that the city would try to counterclaim against our client, when it is very clear that our client had no part in causing this accident.”
Late Tuesday afternoon, a spokesman for the city told News 4, due to the pending litigation, city officials would not be commenting on the lawsuit or countersuit. But reliable sources at City Hall indicate city attorneys are in the process of withdrawing their counterclaim against McLaughlin.
Elmore welcomed the news, but said he and Boyd still have to prove their case, and they are trying to question witnesses to help shape their lawsuit against the city.