The mother of a 17-year-old Camden girl has sued police and the county in the death of her daughter, who was fatally struck by a Camden County police car two years ago.
Nearreada Robles, who was a senior at Woodrow Wilson High School, was crossing an intersection in Camden at about 10 p.m. on Feb. 13, 2019, when a vehicle driven by Officer James Lopez crashed into her.
She was in the crosswalk and had the right of way, while Lopez was traveling about 60 mph in an area where the speed limit was 25, according to the wrongful-death lawsuit filed Thursday in Camden County Superior Court.
Jeffrey Fritz, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit, said Friday the girl’s mother, Nydia Robles, was too emotional to speak.
But he provided a statement from her. “My heart hurts as we approach the second anniversary of my baby’s death,” she said. “She was only 17, full of life and would brighten up the room with her smile and soft, sweet voice. Every day, I stare at her picture and promise her that I will bring her justice.”
Lopez had “improperly requested” he be sent to respond to a call of a homeless man who was sleeping inside a McDonald’s restaurant across from the Camden County Police Department’s headquarters that night, the lawsuit says. He was more than a mile away, and other officers were closer and available to respond, the suit says.
The sleeping homeless man was “not an emergency and did not warrant an emergency response,” the suit says. It also contends that the county and police department had enacted procedures and orders for emergency responses that were too vague.
The lawsuit contends that Lopez was negligent and reckless in his driving, and that he didn’t have his patrol car’s siren activated when he hit the girl. In addition to the county and police department, the lawsuit names Lopez as a defendant.
Dan Keashen, a spokesperson for the county and police department, declined to comment on the lawsuit Friday, citing the pending litigation. He said Lopez would not comment.
Lopez has been on unpaid disability leave since the accident, Keashen said. He wasn’t injured in the crash. Keashen declined to comment on the disability leave.
Lopez was issued tickets for failing to yield to a pedestrian and careless driving in the crash. He pleaded guilty to careless driving, and the other ticket was dismissed, according to Municipal Court records. He was sentenced to a community-service program, Keashen said.