A Cullman County jury this afternoon returned a verdict in favor of the family of a woman who died as a result of a car crash with a police vehicle. The family was represented by MRB attorneys David Marsh and Rip Andrews and Cullman attorney Gaynor St. John.
On the night of February 16, 2009, 77 year old Annie Mae Butts was headed home from her job at Wal-Mart. She entered Alabama Highway 91 when she was struck broadside suddenly and without warning by a Hanceville police cruiser. The police vehicle was traveling between 85 and 90 miles per hour. The speed limit in this neighborhood was 45 mph.
At the time, the police officer was answering a call about an erratic driver. Another unit was dispatched ahead of him so, in fact, there was no emergency situation. Besides driving at twice the legal limit, the evidence was undisputed that the police officer did not turn on the vehicle siren or blue lights.
Attorneys for the police officer and the City of Hanceville tried the case by blaming Annie Butts for pulling onto the highway. However, a re-enactment shown to the jury showed how difficult it would have been for Mrs. Butts to judge the speed of the police vehicle with only his headlights on. The re-enactment also showed that if the police officer had been traveling at 45 mph, Mrs. Butts would have made it safely across the highway.
While on the witness stand, the police officer refused to take responsibility for causing the wreck and continued to blame Mrs. Butts.