CMPD pays more than $25 million in claims over last 10 years

The majority of the claims filed involve vehicle accidents and many of those came from officers rear-ending other vehicles.
Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 5:43 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 8:15 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Since 2010 CMPD has paid more than $25 million in settlements resulting from claims, lawsuits and other actions filed against the department. The majority of the claims filed involve vehicle accidents and many of those came from officers rear-ending other vehicles.

Esther Kunda will always remember when she looks into her rear-view mirror.

“I saw the police car that was driving kind of fast and wasn’t slowing down,” Kunda told WBTV.

The car in front of her wasn’t moving and there was nowhere else to merge.

“So I just kept looking at that mirror until the police car hit me, really hard,” Kunda said.

Kunda has a lot of company as records obtained by WBTV show that hundreds of drivers have been hit by CMPD cars over the last decade.

WBTV requested the total number of settlements CMPD has paid out since 2010. In total CMPD has paid more than $25 million to people who have filed lawsuits or claims against the department.

Most of that money was spent on General Liability Claims - such as shootings or wrongful arrests. More than $10.5 million alone was paid to Timothy Bridges after he spent 25 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit.

But the majority of the claims against CMPD are car crashes. Since 2010 CMPD has paid out on more than 600 Vehicle Accident claims. More than 250 of them have been rear end collisions like what happened to Kunda.

“I couldn’t stand driving any longer because I was just so afraid,” Kunda said.

“Any time I would see a police car, even if they were just next to me, that accident would play back in my mind and I was terrified,” Kunda said.

Kunda received $30,821 in a settlement from CMPD and in total CMPD has paid out more the $6.8 million in vehicle accident settlements over ten years.

WBTV reached out to CMPD about what the department is doing to ensure officers are driving safely and whether there are ramifications for these car crashes.

In response a CMPD spokesperson provided data showing that CMPD officers logged more than 20 million miles on the road in 2020 and wrote that the department records the most mileage of any city department.

More recent data provided by CMPD shows that in 2021 there have been 210 crashes involving officers with 80 of them being preventable.

“If an internal investigation following a collision reveals that an officer violated department policy, he/she is subject to administrative disciplinary action,” a CMPD spokesperson wrote in an email.

Officers who are involved in a preventable accident may also be required to attend additional training.

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