The Dude Hit by HPD Chief's SUV While Crossing a Downtown Street Is Now Suing

The Dude Hit by HPD Chief's SUV While Crossing a Downtown Street Is Now Suing
Houston Police Department

Remember that accident that Houston Chief of Police Charles McClelland was in last year, in which he hit a pedestrian with his city vehicle while driving downtown? Well, it looks like the city's top cop may end up on the wrong side of the courtroom over it.

James Harris, the pedestrian who was hit, filed a lawsuit against McClelland and the City of Houston this week, citing, among other things, injuries and damages he sustained during his run-in with McClelland's car.

The accident happened September 4, 2013, when McClelland was heading to the downtown police headquarters in a city vehicle. McClelland was about one block away from the HPD office when he hit Harris, who was crossing the street at the intersection of Clay and Travis.

The entire incident was caught by surveillance cameras in the area, which clearly show Harris crossing the street at Travis when he is hit by a car and flung into the intersection, his briefcase flying.

McClelland said the incident was "just an accident" at the time, saying that both he and Harris had green lights, and he just didn't see him. Mayor Annise Parker suspended McClelland for one day following the crash, and he also agreed to take a defensive driving course.

"It was just an accident," McClelland told the Chron. "I made a left turn from Clay onto Travis. I had a green light, and obviously he had a green light to walk across the street, and for whatever reason I didn't see him."

According to Harris's lawsuit, McClelland failed to yield to pedestrians and failed to slow down and apply the brakes. Harris also alleges that McClelland was on the phone at the time of the accident.

Harris says the City of Houston is also "vicariously negligent," since the Chief was on the clock at the time of the incident.

Houston City Attorney David Feldman addressed the lawsuit in a statement, saying, "We have attempted to negotiate a settlement with Mr. Harris for some time, but the amount he is seeking is far in excess of his damages. Since the city is self-insured, any settlement is paid for with taxpayer money, and we have an obligation to make sure that we never settle a case for more than it is worth."

Harris's attorney, Ross Spears, told Channel 2 that they had no choice but to file the lawsuit, which is the result of "a year's worth of unsuccessful, and at times insulting, attempts to settle the case out of court."

Sears also said that the city's offer was not nearly enough to cover medical expenses, lost wages or pain and suffering.

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