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Inglewood settles for nearly $15 million with LAPD officer hurt in mayor’s 2019 crash

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Inglewood’s insurance provider will pay nearly $15.5 million to settle a series of lawsuits stemming from a 2019 crash in which a city-owned vehicle driven by Mayor James T. Butts Jr. allegedly went through a red light, collided with another car and was sent spinning into a parked motorcycle officer, according to a newly released settlement agreement.

The motorcycle officer, Michael Flynn, his wife and their attorneys will receive a lump sum of nearly $11 million, as well as guaranteed monthly payments totaling $3.96 million over the next 30 years, the agreement states.

All of the plaintiffs in the consolidated case blamed Butts for the crash. The mayor, driving in a Chevy Tahoe registered to the Inglewood Police Department, was on his way to a panel in South Los Angeles at the time.

The Chevy Tahoe driven by Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr. is seen adjacent to a water fountain in Exposition Park near USC where an LAPD motorcycle officer came to rest after he was struck. (Image courtesy of ABC7)

The chain reaction flung Flynn and his motorcycle into a nearby fountain. The officer suffered broken ribs, damage to his nervous system and “permanent physical disability, impairment, scarring and disfigurement,” according to his lawsuit. Flynn’s wife filed a joint lawsuit with him, alleging the injuries he had suffered damaged their relationship.

The driver of the other vehicle, Karina Gomez, and her child, separately settled with the city for $450,000 last year, records showed. Another roughly $366,000 went to Los Angeles to cover Flynn’s workers’ compensation claim.

Though Los Angeles accused Butts of breaking the law by running the red light and video released of the accident seemed to support that, Butts was never cited nor charged. It is common not to issue citations in traffic collisions where there is no criminal activity, such as a drunken driving or recklessness, according to an LAPD spokesperson.

Butts had previously indicated he would take responsibility if investigators determined he was to blame for the crash.

During an Inglewood City Council meeting days after the accident, Butts said he was heartbroken to learn the officer had been injured. The former Santa Monica police chief also had worked as a motor officer and was twice hit by cars, he explained.

“For whatever fault is to be assessed in this accident, that is mine, I accept it,” Butts said.

The City Council, however, nevertheless rejected the initial claims from the injured officer, the city of Los Angeles, and Gomez and her son.

Flynn’s attorney, Alan Snitzer, declined to comment in February, saying the case had yet to be finalized. He could not be reached for comment following the Thursday, April 4, disclosure of the settlement agreement through a California Public Records Act request.

A hearing regarding the dismissal of the case is currently scheduled for April 30, according to the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Related links

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Video shows crash involving Inglewood mayor, LAPD motor officer

Attorney Dylan Dordick, who represented Gomez, said in a December interview that while Inglewood would not admit fault, the city’s attorneys acted professionally and “didn’t hide the ball” during their defense of the case.

“Overall, at least in my case, they seemed to have tried to do the right thing,” Dordick said. “I can’t say that they have been fast or expedient — and they did defend the case — but they didn’t do it in a way that was unfair or unprofessional.”

Inglewood’s city attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

Inglewood is insured through the Independent Cities Risk Management Authority, an insurance pool made up of 14 cities, including El Monte, El Segundo, Hawthorne, Santa Ana and San Fernando. The settlement agreements were approved in closed sessions and not publicly disclosed, records showed.

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