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Judge to decide on lawsuit against Franklinton police

Posted May 19, 2009

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— A judge will decide if a lawsuit involving a wreck that killed two sisters should move forward against the Franklinton Police Department or be dismissed.

There's no timeframe on when Superior Court Judge Shannon Joseph must rule.

Linsay Lunsford, 18, and Maggie Lunsford, 9, were on their way home from a Wal-Mart shopping trip on Dec. 1, 2007, when, Guy Christopher Ayscue slammed his car head-on into theirs.

Both girls and Ayscue died in the wreck.

Franklinton police officer Michael Dunlap was pursuing Ayscue at the time of the collision. According to a Highway Patrol investigation, the 15-mile chase reached speeds of up to 90 mph, 35 mph above the posted speed limit.

That violated Franklinton police policy that pursuits shouldn't exceed 20 mph above the posted speed limit, the Lunsfords' attorney, Trey Duckworth, said Tuesday.

The Lunsfords claimed gross negligence on Dunlap's part. They filed suit against him as well as Franklinton's police chief, the town of Franklinton and Ayscue's estate.

Duckworth said that Dunlap did not consider surrounding conditions at the time – a high volume of traffic following a Christmas parade that day and other vehicles running off the road to avoid Ayscue.

William Hill, who represented the town of Franklinton, cited numerous cases involving similar high-speed chases in which officers were found not to be negligent. He argued the town is not liable for the girls' deaths.

The Lunsfords' lawsuit said Ayscue was also responsible for the sisters' deaths, having operated his vehicle "carelessly" and in "wanton disregard" of others on a highway without "due caution."

23 Comments

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  • thepeopleschamp May 20, 2009

    "Cops need to be held responsible for their actions just as much as the rest of us." SilverWolf

    Where do you work? When someone violates a policy at your work place, is it a front page story on the news? When someone breaks a rule at your work are they investigated by trained law enforcement investigators? This officer was, many times over. Believe it or not, police are held far and away more accountable for their actions than the average citizen.

  • Cloudy May 20, 2009

    I cannot imagine the grief this family is going through losing two children in this manner.

  • tnroyster May 20, 2009

    To Dare107 I personally know the lawyer referred to in this report and let me go on record by saying that Mr. Duckworth is far from sleezy. Mr. Duckworth goes above and beyond to make sure that the laws that protect us as citizens are upheld. He is a man full of compassion and although we like to assume that all lawyers are out to get rich quick, he is not one of them. I think that the big picture here is that policy was violated. If we are not going to uphold policy than why bother to write policies. My heart goes out to the family of those girls and to the officer and his family. No we can not say for certain that if he had followed the department policy than no tragedy would have occurred; but what we can say is that if he had followed policy he would not have to be dealing with this now.

  • morebadnews May 20, 2009

    I have looked back at older articles regarding this case to see when the man was being chased. It appears he was driving erritacally. So, what if the officer had not conintued to chase the suspect and later down the road the suspect hit the two girls and killed them? Then you all would be saying "if the officer would have tried harder to stop him this would not have happened". So damed if you do and damed if you don't. Some of you carry a grudge against law enforcement and really need to get over it. They do a hard and dangerous job everyday and citizens need to remember that and respect it.

  • XARABELLE May 20, 2009

    IF ANY OF YOU ACTUALLY KNEW MIKE (THE OFFICER), YOU WOULDN'T BE SAYING ANY OF THIS. HE IS AN UPSTANDING PERSON AND HAS NOTHING BUT COMPASSION AND CARE FOR THE PUBLIC. HE'S NO ADRENALINE JUNKIE...HAS AN OUTSTANDING RECORD...AND IS ONE OF THE COPS WHO ACTUALLY CARES ABOUT HIS JOB! ALL OF YOU OUT THERE WEREN'T THERE, SO QUIT ACTING LIKE YOU KNOW WHAT EVERYONE WAS THINKING. THIS WAS A HORRIFIC ACCIDENT THAT HE MUST RELIVE EVERYDAY! GET OVER YOURSELVES

  • brighteyesss12 May 20, 2009

    Just for the record, Asycue was not drunk at the time. He had cocaine in his system based on the toxicology reports, but cocaine stays in your system for seven days.

  • xandevalinour May 20, 2009

    An officers job is to protect and serve, he failed to protect these 2 girls by disregarding town policy

    Journey985 as a reminder town policies are not the same as laws, and the officer can not be prosecuted for this.

  • shoppingqueen May 20, 2009

    So I guess the suspect’s family should also file suit then, because the office broke protocol? If he would have stop the chase the suspect would have slowed down then all 3 people would still be alive correct? So both families should have the right to sue? Well that only seems fair in lawyer land!!

  • ladyblue May 20, 2009

    they had his plate #, journey--If you understood the law having a plate number means only your car was involved in something illegal. They have to prove YOU were behind the wheel and to do that means they need to catch them. It's hard enough on officers to charge anyone for anything in today's society without 100% proof and our laws protect the criminals more than anyone else in society.

  • ladyblue May 20, 2009

    I dont't think the police should be sued. They usually charge the driver trying to outrun the law when there is an accident and this is no different. Of course they know that the insurance money will be so little to what they can get out of the police department. They need to find a better way to release their anger. As far as I am concerned the crook was the one running from the law not the officer chasing the crook. I think with the technology today there shouldn't have to be any car chases by police, but that's another story. I'm saying since it is allowed, then the police should be exempt from the fallout.

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