Tacoma to pay $1.25M to man injured in high-speed police chase

Jan 5, 2023, 9:32 AM | Updated: 12:20 pm
tacoma police...
Tacoma police are hoping two arrests will help stop a series of ATM robberies in the city. (Tacoma Police Department)
(Tacoma Police Department)

The City of Tacoma has agreed to pay $1.25 million to a man injured in a high-speed police chase.

The Tacoma News Tribune reports the suit alleged a Tacoma police officer initiated a dangerous and unnecessary pursuit in 2018.

In his police report, officer Matthew Riche saw Rhoneasha Mitchell speeding on South Warner Street near the Tacoma Mall. Riche reportedly pursued her. Mitchell ran a red light at 60 mph and hit a truck driven by Tony Palas, who was injured in the crash.

In the lawsuit filed by Palas, he claimed Riche initiated a dangerous and unnecessary pursuit and accused the officer of racially profiling Mitchell because she was Black.

Mitchell pleaded guilty in 2018 to attempting to elude police and two counts of vehicular assault. She was also illegally possessing a firearm as a felon because there was a gun in her car at the time of the police chase, according to court documents.

Court papers said the city admitted liability because Riche violated department policy. Riche denied the allegations.

Tacoma Police shot and killed suspect during investigation

The Tacoma City Council approved the settlement on Tuesday.

Riche is still a Tacoma police officer and, according to a city spokesperson, got a verbal warning for the pursuit. The city wrote in court papers that Riche violated both rules by initiating the pursuit and then failing to terminate it.

“Ignoring the danger that high-speed police pursuits pose to the public is not acceptable,” an attorney for Palas wrote in a statement.

According to a lawsuit, Palas suffered “permanent and life-altering injuries” from the collision.

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Tacoma to pay $1.25M to man injured in high-speed police chase