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Saginaw sued, claiming police didn't do enough to prevent double-fatal crash

(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 25, 2020 at 5:16 PM EDT
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(6/25/2020) - Saginaw police body cam video is now part of federal lawsuits filed by the estates of the two people who died in a crash, claiming officers could have prevented it.

The crash happened on June 24, 2016. Rodolfo Sanchez has been sentenced to at least 12 years in prison for driving drunk and causing the accident.

The crash happened seven minutes after Saginaw police had talked with Sanchez about a disturbance at a party.

The body camera video shows five Saginaw police officers talking with Sanchez around 4 a.m. He was shirtless and standing outside a car that was stopped along Michigan Avenue.

Lindsey Drake, who was Sanchez's girlfriend, also was part of the conversation while holding the couple's 4-month-old daughter, Amiliana. Sanchez's sister also was with them, but it's not clear who was driving the car.

All four were at a party in Saginaw where there was a fight and they had left. The video shows some discussion about what happened at the party, but the lawsuit claims police allow them to go home after about eight minutes.

"You are all cool together, you are all cool together, right? Alright, go ahead and go home," the officer is heard saying.

But eight minutes later, the car Sanchez was driving crashed into a tree in neighboring Carrollton Township. Lindsey Drake and Amiliana died while Sanchez and his sister were injured.

Sanchez's blood alcohol level would be determined at 0.20 -- about two and a half times over the legal limit.

Attorneys for the father and the estates of the victims are suing the city of Saginaw, the police department and the officers present, claiming they should have known Sanchez had been drinking and shouldn't have allowed him or the others to leave without more investigation.

"The police have an obligation to make sure the four are going to be safe if they are allowed to go about their way. That is not what happened here," said attorney Mike Nichols.

Sanchez had been arrested for suspicion of drunk driving a month before this incident. He was sentenced to serve 12 to 30 years in prison for his role in causing the double-fatal crash.

The two lawsuits seek monetary damages and more.

"Try to figure out, how did this happen? They deserve answers," said attorney John Fraser.

The city and the police department had no comment on the lawsuits.

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