A woman whose leg had to be amputated after she was struck by a vehicle after it had collided with a Philadelphia police car filed a lawsuit Friday against the city, claiming the officer recklessly drove through a red light and at a high rate of speed.
Brenda Speaks, 58, of Nicetown, has been a patient at Temple University Hospital ever since the Oct. 1 crash, undergoing five operations, including one to amputate her left leg at the knee, according to family members.
“This was the direct result of a police officer that was not following protocol and not being careful,” said attorney James Helm, of the TopDog Law firm. He is representing Speaks along with Jordan Strokovsky, of Strokovsky LLC.
The lawsuit, filed in Common Pleas Court Friday, accuses the officer, who is not named, and the city of negligence, and seeks damages in excess of $50,000.
Spokespersons for the Police Department and the city did not respond to requests for comment Friday.
The crash occurred just before 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of West Hunting Park Avenue and Schuyler Street, near the Police Department’s 39th District headquarters. Speaks had been standing on a corner when she was struck.
The officer, who was driving in the 2200 block of West Hunting Park, had activated the marked cruiser’s flashing lights but did not stop before entering the intersection, according to a video obtained by The Inquirer. After entering the intersection, the officer stopped the patrol car and it was struck on the driver’s side by a Ford Crown Victoria, which then hit Speaks.
“She had several surgeries because the doctors kept trying to save her leg at first, but the skin kept dying. So, the doctors said we’re going to have to make a choice on either her life or the leg,” a niece, Bonnie Speaks, said in an interview Friday.
Bonnie Speaks and her sisters, Olympia Speaks, and Kenyante Speaks, said their aunt has no children and supported herself by performing odd jobs near her home.
No one from the city or the Police Department has reached out to see how she is doing, her lawyers and relatives said. Speaks was not well enough to be interviewed, they said.
There have been 415 crashes involving police vehicles in the city so far this year, down from 453 at the same time last year, according to department data.
“Police are here to prevent harm to the public in response to a call, not multiply it. And here, somebody was catastrophically injured as a result of poor decision-making by a Philadelphia police officer,” said Strokovsky.