Cop car’s speed in fatality within law | Police say it topped posted limit, though

A San Diego police officer whose patrol car hit and killed a jaywalker Sunday night was exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 10 mph, authorities said.

But the officer did not violate any traffic laws, said traffic Sgt. Mike Healy, explaining that all motorists are permitted to exceed limits on city streets up to 55 mph if road conditions are safe.

“The speed limit is suggested,” Healy said. “That doesn’t mean that’s what the speed limit is. If it’s safe to go 50, you can go 50. Most people don’t realize that.”

The officer was on his way to a nonemergency domestic violence call on Balboa Avenue near Genesee Avenue at 10 p.m. when a pedestrian suddenly appeared in his path. The cruiser’s lights and siren were not activated.

Investigators estimated the officer’s speed at between 50 to 54 mph in a 40 mph zone. The conditions at the time of the accident appeared to be safe for the officer to travel at that speed, Healy said.

“The pedestrian was crossing in midblock in violation of the law,” Healy said. “He had been shopping at Ralphs (grocery store) and had pushed his cart up and over the center island and into the path of the police car.

“There’s no gross negligence on the officer’s part. Most of the witnesses said he wasn’t speeding.”

Officers may exceed all speed limits when they turn on their lights and siren. The officer in this case had not done so because he was not en route to an emergency, Healy said.

The name of the man who died has not been released while authorities inform his relatives of his death. The officer’s name has also not been disclosed.

Healy said the investigation will be completed within a week.

Posted in Article, San Diego Union Tribune.