Dual lawsuits filed in New Plymouth death

Family claims deputy was negligent, while officer claims dead man killed was drunk.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comOctober 17, 2013 

The estate of a New Plymouth man killed in 2011 when his Jeep was struck by a police patrol car, and the Payette County deputy driving the vehicle have filed opposing lawsuits.

Deputy Scott Sloan was responding on Oct. 18, 2011, to a 911 call from an 11-year-old boy who locked himself in a room after hearing an intruder break into his family’s home in New Plymouth. His patrol car slammed into Barry Johnson's Jeep CJ7 as the deputy was passing Johnson in the oncoming lane of traffic, and as Johnson was turning left into the driveway of his residence on Highway 30 near Custer Lane west of New Plymouth.

Johnson, 65, was ejected from his vehicle and died at the scene of the 5:38 p.m. wreck. Sloan was treated and released from Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Ontario.

Johnson's daughter, Nampa resident Jackie Raymond, filed suit Sept. 26 in U.S. District Court in Boise alleging that Sloan was negligent in driving so fast he couldn’t avoid striking her father’s vehicle on the two-lane highway. Idaho Falls attorney T. Jason Wood, who represents Raymond, claims Sloan drove up to 115 miles per hour as he moved into the oncoming lane and attempted to pass the Jeep, an action she claims lacked “due regard” for the safety of her father and other motorists.

Sloan and his wife, Chastity Sloan, filed suit Wednesday in Third District Payette County Court. They claim Johnson failed to yield to an emergency vehicle, which was traveling with its lights and siren on.

The Sloans also claim Johnson failed to use his turn signal and that he was driving drunk. They say his blood alcohol level exceeded Idaho’s .08 percent legal standard for motorists.

A special prosecutor initially charged Sloan with felony vehicular manslaughter for causing Johnson’s death. This spring, Third District Payette County Judge Thomas Ryan dismissed that case at the request of the state.

While Idaho State Police Trooper Quinn Carmack initially estimated Sloan’s speed at between 101 and 115 mph, the Sloans’ lawyers claim that expert crash reconstructionists hired by the state and Sloan’s attorneys during his criminal case concluded Sloan’s speed was in the mid-80s.

Joe Filicetti, the Sloans’ lawyer in the civil case, said both outside experts believed Sloan was driving at an appropriate speed.

Both lawsuits seek unspecified damages. Raymond’s lawsuit also names Payette County Sheriff Charles Huff, the Idaho State Police and 20 unidentified police officers as co-defendants.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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