Wichita Police Department (WPD) Officer Samuel Dugo has been charged with felony aggravated battery for a two-vehicle accident while responding to a 911 call on March 16.

Dugo has been with the department since 2016. He has been on unpaid leave since June.

At about 10:38 p.m. on March 16, a citizen called 911 to report a burglary in progress. Dugo and other officers responded.

As Dugo approached the intersection of Pine and Broadway in downtown, a motorist driving a Ford Ranger pickup pulled out from a stop sign and attempted to cross the intersection. Dugo was driving a WPD Chevy Tahoe. The two vehicles collided in the intersection.

The motorist, 71-year-old Donald Clark, was ejected from his vehicle and suffered severe injuries.

To ensure transparency and avoid conflicts of interest, WPD requested the Kansas Highway Patrol (KHP) investigate the collision. The investigation determined Dugo was travelling at 79 mph and didn’t use his emergency lights or sirens. The posted speed limit was 30 mph.

On June 19, the case was presented to District Attorney Marc Bennett. Dugo was charged with one count of aggravated battery (recklessly causing great bodily harm, K.S.A. 21-5413(b)(2)(A)).

It is unusual for charges to be brought against Wichita police officers, but not necessarily unusual for officers to be involved in accidents or near-accidents.

Earlier this year, home surveillance footage caught a WPD car approaching a stopped school bus with its stop sign activated. The WPD officer turned on emergency lights to pass, disobeying the stop sign. Angry parents said they or their children could have been hit. WPD said at the time that it would review the case, but no statement has been made since.

A lawsuit filed a few months ago by an Illinois woman, Breanna Parsons, alleges that during a 2016 accident that injured her, WPD Officer Samuel Floyd was slow to turn on his emergency lights and didn’t yield to oncoming traffic. The woman is seeking more than $75,000 in damages.

In 2013, the City of Wichita paid $300,000 to the family of a 12-year-old girl, Suhani Bhakta, who was killed when Officer Atlee Vogt hit her with his car while driving over the speed limit and not using emergency lights or sirens.

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