A Spokane officer accused of speeding and causing a collision that left two people with serious injuries faced a judge on Wednesday. Officer Michael Brunner pled not guilty to two counts of vehicular assault. KREM2-TV reported on the arraignment hearing on August 18, 2020.
The accident involving three cars occurred on March 25th. Spokane Police Officials confirm that Brunner was on duty that day and heading back to his station when he struck a car crossing in front of him at the intersection of Lincoln Street and Fifth Avenue near Deaconess Hospital. The car then hit a parked vehicle nearby.
James and Lois Collins were in that car and both were taken to the hospital. According to court documents, James Collins suffered fractures to his clavicle and ribs and sustained a kidney hemorrhage. Lois Collins required staples for a cut on her head.
James Collins was originally ticketed in the accident but Attorney Jim Domanico with Spokane’s CCD Law maintains that Officer Brunner bears complete blame in the incident. In a press release, Domanico said Officer Brunner was going 65 mph on Lincoln at 5th Avenue where the speed limit is 30mph. He also added, “Officer Brunner was driving so recklessly not to an emergency, but simply to get to the police station as his shift ended.”
Spokane Police Spokesperson Julie Humphreys says the department asked the Washington State Patrol to conduct an investigation into the crash on the day it occurred. They determined that speed was a factor in the accident. Spokane County prosecutors later charged Brunner with two counts of vehicular assault at the recommendation of the State Patrol.
Attorney Jim Domanico believes Spokane police were covering for Officer Brunner when they initially ticketed Mr. Collins for the crash rather than beginning a criminal investigation.
“It was only when the true extent of the on-duty misconduct committed by Officer Brunner became undeniable that the Washington State Patrol investigated the Police Department’s actions, had the ticket dismissed, and disclosed Officer Brunner’s actions to the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office,” the press release stated.
The victims’ attorney, Jim Domanico, also claims Officer Brunner obstructed justice by not giving investigators a statement in the wake of the crash. The attorney said there are no plans to file a lawsuit against the department in connection to the crash.
The police department reports that Officer Brunner has been on administrative leave but, as of this week, he has been laid off pending the outcome of the case.