CLEARWATER — A woman whose car was hit in Largo by a Clearwater Police vehicle during a 2018 car chase is about to receive a $95,000 settlement from the city of Clearwater.
The injured civilian, Zoe Applegate, 20, underwent emergency surgery to fix a broken wrist at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg after her car was hit by a police vehicle.
A Clearwater Police detective and two other officers were temporarily suspended in September 2018 after an internal investigation found that they had participated in an unsanctioned car chase, which ended with Applegate getting hurt.
A Professional Standards investigation of the incident said the officers also failed to communicate their actions over police radio. “During the pursuit, Officer Jesse Myers was involved in an accident after he ran a red light,” the report states. “As Detective (Frederick) Lise was pursuing the vehicle, he failed to adequately update a supervisor he was pursuing a vehicle.”
On Dec. 16 — more than 18 months after the crash — the City Council voted to put Applegate’s settlement on its Dec. 19 consent agenda, virtually guaranteeing the payment’s approval.
The department’s chase policy limits pursuits to specific situations, such as events involving suspected violent felons, Clearwater Deputy Police Chief Eric Gandy said.
“It was a stolen car, we attempted to stop the stolen car, it fled, and our pursuit policy prohibits us from pursuing stolen cars,” Gandy told the Beacon after the council meeting Dec. 16. “So that was the basis of the officers’ suspension.”
The event summary attached to the Dec. 16 City Council agenda laid out the following facts:
“On May 29, 2018, a city police vehicle was traveling west on Rosery Road, with lights and siren off, in a high-speed pursuit of a stolen car with two other Clearwater Police Department vehicles,” the summary reads. “(The police vehicle) entered the intersection with Clearwater-Largo Road.”
At the same moment, Applegate and passenger William Gamble, in a black, Chevrolet sedan, entered the intersection from the south on Clearwater-Largo Road. The police vehicle — driven by Myers — then hit Applegate’s car.
“The two vehicles met in the intersection as the point of impact,” an accident report attached to the internal investigation states.
“Applegate was injured and incurred significant medical expenses and will likely incur additional expenses in the future,” the report states. Gamble also was taken by ambulance to Bayfront Hospital for treatment of his injuries. Gamble is not included in Applegate’s settlement.
Two Clearwater Police officers, Langston Woodie and Myers, were suspended after they broke policy by pursuing the stolen car, Gandy said. The Professional Standards report stated that Detective Lise, who gave chase when the stolen car pulled away from a traffic stop, was suspended for 10 days for breaking chase policy, insubordination, and lack of candor. He also was removed from the department’s Special Enforcement Unit.