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Lawsuit seeks $3M against city, KPD officer in fatal August crash

On Aug. 13, 2021, KPD officers responded to a burglary in progress at Kingston Pike business when a car pulled in front of a cruiser, resulting in the crash.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE MARCH 25: The mother of a driver killed when a Knoxville police officer t-boned him while responding to a call in August is suing the officer and the city for $3 million.

Claudia Macias, the mother of Mauricio Luna, filed the lawsuit Friday in Knox County Circuit Court. Attorneys T. Scott Jones and Chris Beavers represent her.

Spanish Version: Demanda pide $3 millones contra la ciudad y oficial de KPD en accidente fatal de agosto

KPD Officer Cody Klingmann was driving more than 80 mph and driving without his emergency equipment at about 3 a.m. on August 13 when he collided with Luna. Klingmann was among several officers responding to a commercial burglary call.

Luna was sitting at a stop sign at Cheshire Drive by Olive Garden on Kingston Pike.

A THP investigation found that Luna pulled onto Kingston Pike after the lead officer responding to the burglary call passed by in front of him. 

Kingston Pike makes a slight rise just prior to its t-intersection with Cheshire Drive, a review by the Knox County District Attorney General's Office noted.

Speeding east on Kingston Pike, Klingmann struck Luna's Honda on the driver's side. Luna died at the scene.

"According to data obtained from the (officer's) Dodge, Klingmann was traveling 90 miles per hour .6 seconds before the crash, slowing to 81 miles per hour immediately prior to impact," the DA's Office review noted.

The DA's review determined criminal charges weren't merited; it didn't opine about potential civil liability.

Macias's lawsuit alleges the officer failed to use proper care while driving, was speeding and should have been using his emergency equipment.

Macias also names the city of Knoxville as a defendant in the lawsuit.

"The negligence of both defendants was the cause of the collision," the lawsuit states.

At 3 a.m. that day there was little traffic on Kingston Pike. The posted speed limit is 45 mph.

PREVIOUS STORY: The Knox County District Attorney General's Office said it will not recommend criminal charges against a Knoxville police officer involved in an August 2021 crash that killed a civilian while officers responded to a burglary.

The victim, Mauricio Luna, died on August 13, 2021, after a Knoxville police cruiser driven by officer Cody Klingmann crashed into their vehicle on Kingston Pike early that morning. The Tennessee Highway Patrol investigated the crash.  

Around 3 a.m. that morning, the Knoxville Police Department said it responded to a burglary at a business at the 4800 block of Kingston Pike.

As officers rushed to the scene without their emergency equipment activated, THP said Luna's Honda Accord pulled onto Kingston Pike in front of Klingmann's cruiser near Cheshire Drive. Luna died in the crash, and Klingmann suffered minor injuries.

The DA's office reviewed THP's case file on the incident, with Deputy District Attorney Leland Price saying there was insufficient evidence to criminally charge Klingmann or the other officers given the circumstances. 

According to Price's report to DA Charme Allen, Klingmann had been the second in a line of three cruisers responding to the burglary, and none of the officers had activated their emergency equipment at the time of the crash when Luna turned left onto Kingston Pike. 

Price said the THP investigation showed Luna had also failed to yield as Klingmann's cruiser quickly approached in the left or inner left lane at 90 mph in a 45 mph zone. 

"Because he did not activate his emergency equipment, Klingmann was not excused from following normal traffic regulations," Price said in his report. "However, Klingmann's excessive speed did not create a risk of such a nature and degree that injury or death was likely and foreseeable under the circumstances."

The report said Klingmann and the other officers had their headlights on, saying traffic was seen to be "virtually non-existent" at the time of the crash in the patrol car video.

"Tragically, the risk of death required the intervening factor of Luna's failure to yield, pulling out unexpectedly in the path of Klingmann. Thus, the proof simply does not establish that Klingmann was the proximate cause of Luna's death," Price concluded.

The report also said neither of the drivers were impaired at the time of the crash, saying Klingmann's blood alcohol test and drug screen were negative aside from the presence of caffeine.

At the time of the crash, KPD said Klingmann had been with the department since April 2020.

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