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Williams v. City of Omaha

Supreme Court of Nebraska

July 17, 2015

MARCUS M. WILLIAMS, APPELLEE,
v.
CITY OF OMAHA, APPELLANT

Page 780

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 781

Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: W. MARK ASHFORD, Judge.

Thomas O. Mumgaard, Deputy Omaha City Attorney, for appellant.

Edward F. Fogarty, of Fogarty & Lund, and John J. Ekeh, of Ekeh Law Office, for appellee.

HEAVICAN, C.J., WRIGHT, CONNOLLY, MCCORMACK, MILLER-LERMAN, and CASSEL, JJ. Stephan, J., not participating.

OPINION

Page 782

[291 Neb. 404] Cassel, J.

I. INTRODUCTION

After a bench trial, the City of Omaha, Nebraska (City), appeals from a money judgment for injuries sustained by an innocent third party in a motor vehicle collision involving a vehicle allegedly being pursued by police officers. The City contends that the pursuit statute[1] did not apply because the officers intended only to stop the vehicle and not to " apprehend" the driver. Under our deferential standard of review, [291 Neb. 405] two factual findings support an inference that the officers' objective changed before the collision. The City also criticizes the court's assessment of the officers' intent. But the court's discussion did not detract from its essential findings. Because the district court's factual findings are not clearly erroneous and support its conclusion that the police began a pursuit prior to the collision, we affirm the judgment.

II. BACKGROUND

1. Stipulated Facts

The parties stipulated to basic facts, which we summarize as follows:

o Two motor vehicles collided at the intersection of Spaulding and 30th Streets in Omaha.

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o William G. Webster was driving westbound on Spaulding Street.

o Marcus M. Williams was northbound on 30th Street.

o Webster violated a stop sign, resulting in the collision.

o An Omaha police cruiser, driven by Officer Jeffrey Wasmund, who was accompanied by Officer Kalon Fancher, was east of the intersection.

o After the collision, the officers drove through the intersection to follow Webster, who was fleeing from the scene.

o At a point west of the intersection, Fancher used the cruiser's radio to announce that the officers were in pursuit.

o Shortly after the radio call, the officers' supervisor ordered them to ...


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