Suit: Cop Was Driving Wrong Way Before Crash

CHICAGO (CBS) — An officer responding to a call crashes into a car, sending a young girl to the hospital with severe injuries.

What the officer says happened in written reports contradicts witness accounts and even a supervisor’s finding.

CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports.

Vera Watson suffered a fractured pelvis in the 2015 crash.

Her lawsuit alleges Officer Santino Ghiotto was driving the wrong way down a one-way street near East 108th Street and South State, at “a high rate of speed” and “failed to activate or use his emergency lights.”

In a police report signed by Ghiotto, he writes he was responding to an assist call of a person with a gun and he had “emergency equipment activated and struck a vehicle … that failed to yield.”

On that same report, an investigating supervisor, a sergeant, writes after investigating the accident at the scene he determined “Ghiotto was traveling east bound on a one way, west bound street.”

“You’re supposed to serve and protect. Why would you lie?” Watson, the crash victim, says.

In a deposition, Ghiotto said his understanding was “I didn’t have to indicate what direction the street was.”

He reportedly said: “I mean, you would know or somebody would be able to discover that 108th Street is westbound.”

Watson’s attorney, Cannon Lambert, Sr., has his own explanation.

“The reason someone would want to leave out that they were going the wrong way, down a one way street, is because, that’s against the law,” he says.

In witness statements, one woman says she saw flashing blue lights. But she and another female say they never heard sirens and both saw the vehicle going the wrong way, down a one way street.

A work order summary report on the CPD SUV, dated a month after the crash revealed, a “failure of the control box for the PA system … and a failure of the light/siren control box.”

“The very things that are designed to keep the public safe, aren’t working, yet they’re being used. That’s got to be fixed,” Lambert says.

Ghiotto, who had recently started on the force, received a reprimand and driving school for what an internal investigation found to be a preventable accident.

He’s still on the job.

The city of Chicago’s Law Department and the police department said they could not comment, citing the pending litigation.

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