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Death Caused by Speeding Arizona Cop Nets $1.35 Million

Tempe, Arizona officials paid $1.35 million to settle a suit brought by the parents of a college student who was killed in a collision with a police officer.

At 2 a.m. on November 26, 2005, Tempe police officer William Cullins was driving 95 mph without lights or sirens in a 45 mph zone, when he struck a vehicle in an intersection. The driver of the other car, 24-year-old Kyle Barker was killed in the collision.

Although an autopsy found that Barker had a blood alcohol level of 0.18, in excess of the legal limit, Cullins was charged with criminal speeding and issued a citation. He was fined $491 for speeding.

An internal investigation found that Cullins was driving 95 mph five seconds before the accident. Cullins was found to have driven recklessly, in violation of three city policies. He was suspended for one month without pay but remains on the force.

Barker's parents, Jim Barker and Kelly Wilcott, sued the City and ultimately agreed to settle the case for $1.35 million. They asked Tempe to consider unwarranted excessive speeding an immediate ground for officer termination. "We would hope that through this whole travesty that happened . . . (that) some sort of reprimand would come from you other than a 30-day suspension for (the officer) speeding at 95 mph down the road . . . with no lights or sirens," said Jim Barker at a Tempe City Council meeting, as Wilcott cried. "This whole thing could have been avoided. We'd ask the council members to get with the City of Tempe Police Department and review the policies and procedures disobeyed by Officer Cullins."

Council members did not comment, because they are restricted from discussing items not on the agenda, according to Mayor Hugh Hallman. "You know they didn't have to comment on the details of the settlement, but they could have said we're sorry for your loss," said Wilcott. "Never once have they said sorry."

Although Hallman declined comment, City Manager Charlie Meyer did extend condolences on behalf of the City. However, as Meyer observed: "A settlement can never replace the life of a child."

Source: The Arizona Republic

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