An Albuquerque, New Mexico, police officer who was sued for his involvement in a fatal on-duty car crash has filed a counter lawsuit against the other driver, whose 6-year-old son was killed in the accident.
In a suit filed March 2, Jonathan McDonnell, who has a history of on-duty crashes, charged that Antoinette Suina had “failed to yield to an emergency vehicle” in the 2017 accident. The officer, who was responding to an emergency call, was traveling at 67 miles per hour when he hit Suina’s vehicle.
McDonnell’s suit follows the one filed by Suina in January against both the officer and the city of Albuquerque, accusing McDonnell of “deliberate, intentional, and/or reckless” conduct.
The officer’s suit blames Suina for the crash, seeks an unnamed amount in damages, and says he “suffered, and will continue to suffer, a loss of household service, loss of wages, loss of recreational activities, and a loss of enjoyment of life.” McDonnell broke his leg in the crash and is on disability leave.
Suina’s attorney criticized the officer’s charges.
"Having killed Ms. Suina's son, it's somewhat offensive that he would turn around and sue her and heap more tragedy on this family," the lawyer told ABC News. "In effect, it's blaming her for the death of her son.”
McDonnell’s lawyer did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.
After conducting an investigation into the incident, a Bernalillo County officer concluded that the structure of the road facilitated the crash, since the roadway design limited driver visibility.
The officer’s report noted, “It is my opinion that Officer McDonnell was operating his vehicle at a speed too fast for conditions at the time, however, Officer McDonnell was authorized to operate his vehicle in an emergency response."
The investigating officer did not recommend charges for either driver.
McDonnell’s history of car crashes raises questions about his ability to continue driving a patrol vehicle. Since 2009, he had previously been involved in five on-duty crashes and one unauthorized pursuit, resulting in three suspensions. This list of prior incidents brings up concerns about whether or not the officer’s police department was truly protecting public interest by letting him continue in his position. His track record of accidents and a lack of significant reprimand draws Albuquerque’s disciplinary process into scrutiny.
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