Husband of woman killed during police chase files lawsuit against RHPD, city and county officials

Husband of woman killed during police chase files lawsuit against RHPD, city and county officials
Stevie McClinton (Source: Rock Hill Police Department)
Stevie McClinton (Source: Rock Hill Police Department)

YORK COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - The husband of a woman who was killed during a 2016 police chase in York County is suing county officials, Rock Hill city officials and the Rock Hill Police Department, stating they acted "negligent" and violated protocol during the pursuit.

The deadly wreck happened just before 4:30 p.m. near the intersection of Heckle Boulevard and Crawford Road on Sept. 7, 2016.

Troopers say 23-year-old Stevie McClinton was driving away from Rock Hill Violent Crimes Unit on Crawford Road when he allegedly disregarded the traffic signal and struck a Toyota Prius, pushing it into another vehicle.

Virginia Bartell, 72, was one of the passengers in the Prius and was flown to Carolinas Medical Center due to her injuries. She died in the hospital the following day, Rock Hill police said.

In total, six people were injured in the wreck.

McClinton was wanted by South Carlina Probation and Parole. Investigators believed he was selling guns out of his vehicle and was considered to be armed and dangerous. Officers tried to pull McClinton over but he reportedly sped off, ran a red light and hit the vehicle Bartell was in.

The lawsuit states that the police department violated standard police pursuit procedures and policies, resulting in Bartell's death. In the lawsuit, Bartell's widow said officials "failed to follow proper police protocol" in connection with the "use of emergency lights, sirens, and excessive speeds."

The lawsuit claims that officers failed to clear the intersection and failed to maintain a lookout for other drivers during the chase.

According to the lawsuit, police displayed "a clear disregard to the safety of others by speeding excessively and disregarding multiple stop signs."

The lawsuit claims that the "negligent actions" of the defendants "were undertaken with reckless disregard for life and safety." The plaintiff says the defendants' actions were "undertaken deliberately, recklessly, and with knowledge that there was a high degree of probability of harm."

The lawsuit also states that the defendants were negligent in the training, hiring and supervision of other officers and investigators. According to the lawsuit, county officials and Rock Hill police failed to have an "adequate protocol in place governing police pursuits, failed to properly train its officers in the conduct of such pursuits and failed to properly supervise its officers during such pursuits."

Rock Hill police said they found "large amounts" of drugs in McClinton's car as well as two guns. McClinton was charged with failure to stop for blue lights with death, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury, gun charges and multiple drug charges.

The plaintiff is asking the defendants to pay for medical expenses, punitive damages, damages for emotional trauma and funeral expenses.

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