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Mothers sue CHP over wreck that killed their children after high-speed pursuit

Two uniformed officers stand in front of a wrecked car.
California Highway Patrol officers survey the scene of a fatal crash after a police pursuit in Inglewood in April 2021.
(OnScene.TV)
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Two mothers filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol after a suspected drunk driver pursued by officers crashed into a woman and her boyfriend in the city of Inglewood.

The mothers claim officers recklessly chased the driver, who crashed into a car driven by 27-year-old Ryan Davis and his 22-year-old girlfriend, Asia Boatwright, on April 28, 2021, according to the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Thursday. Aziza King, Davis’ mother, and Melissa Gonzalez, Boatwright’s mother, argue CHP officers were negligent when they chased a blue Dodge pickup truck driven by Gustavo Ruelas Jr.

The pursuit began when Ruelas ran a red light on Century Boulevard, a CHP spokesperson said at the time. Ruelas got onto the 405 Freeway and exited on Manchester Avenue, racing through the streets of Inglewood with speeds reaching up to 90 mph. Ruelas crashed into a sedan on Olive Street and ran from the scene. He was later arrested by police, but Davis and Boatwright were trapped in the sedan and later died from their injuries.

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“The chase was conducted deliberately, recklessly and without due regard for the safety of the public,” the mothers said in their wrongful-death lawsuit. “Thus, serious injury and/or death was foreseeable.”

Officers did not follow CHP pursuit policies, according to the lawsuit. Officers did not call in air support in a timely manner or call off the pursuit after they lost radio contact and did not warn other agencies of the chase or that the chase was heading in the direction of other jurisdictions so that safety measures could be taken by other law enforcement agencies, according to the complaint.

“They were also negligent in failing to immediately summon for medical care leading to the death of Mr. Davis and Ms. Boatwright,” according to the complaint.

The mothers named the state of California and Ruelas in their complaint, claiming wrongful death against all defendants and willful misconduct by Ruelas. CHP did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ruelas is serving 26 years to life in prison after he pleaded no contest on April 20 to one count each of murder, gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, and felony evading arrest while driving, according to court documents.

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