A Ketchikan City Council member was hit by a police car in 2019. Now he’s suing the city

The Ketchikan Police Department's headquarters.
The Ketchikan Police Department headquarters. (Photo by KRBD)

A Ketchikan City Council member is suing the city for at least $100,000 after a Ketchikan police officer ran into the council member and his wife with his car while they were crossing a downtown intersection more than two years ago.

It’s a contentious matter that’s ended up in court. But here’s where all sides seem to agree:

It was Valentine’s Day, 2019. Sam Bergeron, who’s been on and off the Ketchikan City Council since 2007, was walking home with his wife, Linda Millard, after a celebratory dinner. They passed the Ketchikan Police Department and stepped into a crosswalk at Grant Street.

That’s where Officer Bryan Perez hit them with his police cruiser. They were both injured, and an ambulance took them to the hospital, according to a lawsuit the married couple filed against the city in January.

Lawyers for the city confirmed the basic facts in their answer to the suit.

Bergeron and his attorney declined to comment. But in court filings, Bergeron’s lawyer says he suffered a concussion along with what he describes as “significant injury to his body.” Millard was hurt as well. They say they were emotionally traumatized and suffered “significant” but unspecified financial damages.

The pair say they are still undergoing treatment for the injuries.

Both the police chief and city attorney declined to comment, but a police report confirms the couple were treated for what the report describes as “minor injuries” before they were discharged from the hospital.

In their lawsuit, Bergeron and Millard say that “several days” later, the police officer showed up at their home. In court filings, attorneys for the city say Officer Perez’s intent was to apologize and check up on them.

But the husband and wife see it differently. They describe the visit as “unannounced and uninvited” and say it was meant to intimidate them and head off legal action. They say the visit was “outrageous conduct by a police officer of the Ketchikan Police Department.”

Bergeron and Millard also say this wasn’t the first time pedestrians had been hit in that very same intersection. But they say the city has failed to put up warning signs or improve streetlights in the area. They say that’s evidence of negligence.

The city denies the allegation in court filings, and the police report notes that the intersection is “fairly well lit.”

City officials did not respond to questions asking whether the incident had been investigated by an outside agency or whether the officer faced any administrative sanction over the incident.

Bergeron and Millard are seeking upwards of $100,000 each for assault and battery, negligence, reckless driving and emotional distress, plus attorney’s fees. A trial is set for February.

Bergeron’s term on the council expires in October. He is not seeking reelection.

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