Man files lawsuit after fatal police-involved accident
HIALEAH, Fla. (WSVN) -- A man involved in an accident with a police cruiser that claimed the life of his girlfriend is filling a lawsuit against the City of Hialeah.
Marco Barrios was driving his sport utility vehicle on Oct. 19 when he was hit by Hialeah Police officer Raul Somaribas, driving an unmarked vehicle along East 49th Street. Barrios' girlfriend, 21-year-old Andrea Castillo, sat next to him in the passenger side. "All I remember was stopping at the stop sign and opening my eyes and I was on the road," said Barrios. "I saw my car upside down."
Barrios filed a civil lawsuit against the City of Hialeah on Monday, after his attorney said the city has refused to turn over information involving the accident.
The surveillance video released from the accident shows the SUV tumbling over parked cars in a parking lot at the Car Shack. The Jeep Compass Barrios was driving was left crushed.
Barrios' attorney, John Leighton, said the officer was traveling at a high rate of speed when it hit the SUV. "It's pretty clear that you have a police car that's traveling at a very, very high rate of speed ... massive impact," said Leighton.
Castillo was severely injured. She died days later from her injuries. Barrios suffered several fractures.
Six months ago, as Barrios laid in a hospital bed and family took Castillo off life support, Hialeah Police said in a press conference, "It is apparent in this investigation thus far, that the driver, Marco Barrios, violated the stop sign and proceeded through the intersection, placing himself in the path of the on-coming police car," said Hialeah Police Department spokesperson Carl Zogby.
Since the police conference, Leighton has asked Hialeah Police for public records of witness accounts and more surveillance video but has not heard back from the police department. "What is the City of Hialeah hiding? Why is it that, for six months, despite reasonable request and public records request, that City of Hialeah has refused to turn over information," said Leighton. "They've refused to allow inspection in the vehicles. They haven't turned over the data from the black box."
Leighton wants more information regarding the accident the night it killed Castillo. "The city not only hasn't shown any remorse, but on the day that Marco Barrios was in intensive care and Andy Castillo was being taken off of life support, they held a press conference where they said they weren't turning anything over because the investigation was going on," Leighton said. "But yet they blamed Marco for violating the right of way, for not using a seat belt, and they said, speed had nothing to do with this crash."
Leighton said Barrios was wearing his seat belt and stopped at the stop sign before the officer hit the SUV. Leighton has requested information from the City of Hialeah for the past six months since the accident occurred.
Barrios said the information could be critical in proving he obeyed the law the night his life was turned into a nightmare. "Why the cover up? Why has it been six months, and we still don't know what happened?" he said.
Barrios was never cited in this case.
7News tried to contact Hialeah Police, but they have refused to comment on the case.
(Copyright 2013 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)