Every government agency I know of, from the federal level to small podunk towns in the middle of nowhere, are facing severe budget shortfalls, laying off workers, and cutting back on services, trying to make ends meet.

Did you ever wonder what happens to your tax dollars? Well, here’s a good example: Maricopa County, Arizona, is currently experiencing a $4.2 million deficit, and has announced that there will be no new services or pay raises for County employees in the next fiscal year.

However, the County’s Board of Supervisors has just unanimously agreed to pay  $235,000 to the family of a man who was killed during a pursuit by Sheriff’s deputies.

Now, the dead man, Dennis Lee Hester, was not an innocent bystander who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and lost his life in one of those terrible quirks of fate we hear about all of the time. No, Hester was fleeing from the police, after failing to pull over for a routine traffic stop, when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into another vehicle.

His mother, Sandy Fitzgerald, who filed the lawsuit on her behalf, and on that of her grandson, who was born shortly after the 2007 accident in which his father died, claimed sheriff’s deputies acted negligently by pursuing her son. In her original suit, she asked for over $2 million.

Huh? Isn’t that what cops are supposed to do – catch criminals? Isn’t it a crime to refuse to stop for a police car, and isn’t it a crime to flee from police? According to the Arizona State legislature’s website page Failure To Comply With A Police Officer, anyone who does so is guilty of a Class 2 Misdemeanor, with a jail sentence of up to four months, and fines of up to $750. Their page on Unlawful Flight From Law Enforcement says anybody who does so is guilty of a Class A Felony, which can result in up to five years imprisonment.  

Based on everything I have read about this case, the only negligence here was that of Dennis Lee Hester himself, and he died for that negligence. So why are the taxpayers of Maricopa County paying his family mega-bucks? I just don’t get it.

He broke the law, he crashed his bike, and he died. How are the cops at fault in any of this? Should police officers just hang up their car keys and let criminals flip them the bird and drive away? Or is there a sliding scale on who should be pursued? Do they let speeders go, but pull over drunk drivers? Can strong arm robbers get a pass, but those who use weapons get chased down? Where do we draw the line?

If I were a Maricopa County resident who could not get the services I need, I’m sure I’d take comfort in the knowledge that the families of criminals are getting highly compensated with my tax dollars when they screw up and die, or get injured, in the process of committing their crimes!

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10 Comments on Wasting Tax Dollars

  1. Gary says:

    Nick
    I worked in the NY Correctional system for 28 years. I saw many times when some convict would file some frivolous lawsuit. Then the state would pay him some amount of money because it would cost more in litigation to prove his suit was B.S. and it happens all the time. Just one example of how insane our judicial system is.

  2. Bob says:

    Nick,
    I’ve been a cop for over 20 years and will retire next June and my wife and I will be FTing in a class A. I have seen a steady diet of more rights for the criminals and everyone sues everyone. This country has lost it’s common sense and I can’t wait to be done. Safe travels.

  3. Dale says:

    Don’t ask how bad it really is for cops. In D.C., for example, due to financial hard times they are not hiring new cops and the force gets smaller every month due to retirement, transfer to a new department, etc. Their police department is one of the best in the world when it comes to crowd control (they train other departments) and yet, as in many, many places, it feels like they’re being treated as second class citizens, i.e., with no respect from their superiors. However, the folks in charge get big raises and other perks, etc. etc. etc.

    I think it’s time we all pay enough attention to make sure that the folks we’re voting for are not on the side of the big corporations but care about us folks.

  4. Ken H says:

    First off, I checked on Bad Nick’s information, and it is true. I was afraid it was an April Fool’s Joke, sadly, it ain’t. Why is it that idiot judges accept lawsuits that are clearly frivolous in nature? They should be tossed and the plaintiffs charged for all court costs and then fined. That would slow them down somewhat. Just because idiots have no respect for the police. I’m afraid if I were on patrol and some idiot decided to run, I would out my Glock and take out a tire immediately. Then if he resisted too much, the Glock is still out. There are too many incidents of a criminal shooting an officer and then getting off on some technical point.
    A co-worker and I got into an argument once because his son was cited for failing to move to the right when an officer came from behind with lights and siren on going to the scene of an accident. He was all upset. I asked why the kid didn’t move over and he said that he wanted to stay in his lane because he was going to turn in a couple of blocks. ‘scuse me? Law says move to the right and either reduce speed or stop. Pay the fine and call it a stupid tax.

  5. Connie Bradih says:

    Unfortunately, it is cheaper to settle than to fight the suit. And that too needs to be addressed in our court system. Why these frivolous (stupid) suits continue I don’t know. Our courts need to clamp down on them. Make it really tough (all costs go to the person who filed the suit)if you lose. Unfortunately too many people out there and ambulance chasing attorneys see dollar signs and go for the money. Settling out of court is easier and cheaper for not only companies but individuals. Sad but true.

  6. Sid Dudley says:

    Our system is broken… too many things have been hung on one side or the other and it has tipped over. Maybe a poor analogy but simply put. Can it be fixed? I think not because once power has been allowed to slip away only a revolution can get it back and even then it not a sure thing!

  7. Those aren’t the only places our governments are wasting money. Just had lunch in Willcox, AZ, at Rodney’s. We met and chatted with Rodney. He says for 8 years, he personally took care of the park across the street, fertilizing the grass, caring for the shrubs, etc. He personally spent about $1000 a year, and the city paid nothing. Now the city has chased him away, managed to get a grant of $270,000 to take care of the park. They blew through that grant immediately, now use convict labor to care for the park. One of the big tress is dying (no more water), the lawn is dying (lots of fertilizer, but no water), and the healthy shrubs are getting attention, but too many others are being ignored. They won’t let Rodney take it back, and he’s young enough and interested enough that he would gladly do it — and spend his own $1000 a year. Figure that one out.

  8. Bill Daines says:

    Great comments so far. Now mine. I retired 3 years ago with 31 years with a Sheriff Department in Mi. And three prior in a small town. I witnessed alot of changes with the Judicial system. My department had a strict persuit policy. Just a couple points of that, traffic condition at the time, type of violation and whether you were able to obtain a registration plate.
    All too often it is actually cheaper to settle a lawsuit rather going to trial. I just had a hard time understanding why a settlement was reached, “say for $10,000”. And then have to think that I was the one who was wrong. When I was not.
    On the topic, when a death is involved, its difficult to understand why someone would bring a wrongful death suit to court. Unfortuneatly its our society which created it. We sit on the Jury, we as Jurrors hear the facts and then come to a conclusion. I always say the System is only as good as we make it. And its my opinion we need to make it better.
    This particular case is just a very small percentage of what takes place all over the country. I cannot put all the blame on the Courts but have to say a portion falls on the back of jurrors who come to the verdick. I’m glad to be retired and thankful to have lived thru it. This year has been extremely deadly for the LEO community.
    Bill.

  9. bucky says:

    I agree with all of the previous comments, I also belive that the ambulance chasing attorneys ought to be put out of business, or charged a fee for even trying to bring these cases to court..
    Watching TV during the day, it seems like most of the sponsors of television programs, come from these scam legal begals. It seems like every drug on the market has some lawyer giving a pitch for a lawsuit. We all pay for this through higher medical costs….

  10. Linda says:

    I’m sure those Co. Supervisor’s paid up because all the attorneys involved promised them it would cost more if it went to court, though why any judge in their right mind wouldn’t just throw the case out. But we all know most judges aren’t in their right mind don’t we? The guy ran,breaking the law, he crashed, he died, the end. His mother, his kid, whoever, doesn’t deserve any payments from the taxpayers. Whatever happened to common sense?

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