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JUDGE DISMISSES SUIT OVER TEEN'S DEATH

A judge has - for the second time - dismissed a lawsuit filed by the parents of a teenager killed while fleeing police.

Attorneys for West Valley police argued that Adrian Garcia, 19, was responsible for his own death because he fled from police.Garcia drove into another car at 80 mph while running a red light. "The police did nothing wrong," said Alan Larson, attorney for West Valley police.

Third District Judge Kenneth Rigtrup agreed, dismissing the Garcia family's lawsuit.

The suit had earlier been dismissed from U.S. District Court when a federal judge ruled that Garcia's death was not a violation of his civil rights.

Rigtrup's ruling is the second court decision this month that sided with police agencies in fatal chases.

The Utah Court of Appeals ruled Sept. 2 that the widow of a Fillmore man could not successfully sue the Utah Highway Patrol over the high-speed chase that killed her husband.

Boyd Day, 69, was killed March 18, 1991, on University Avenue in Provo when his car was struck by a car fleeing troopers.

"You can sympathize with that sort of a situation," Larson said. The appeals court upheld a state judge's decision that existing law protected the UHP from any liability. The law has since been repealed.

But Garcia's case was very different, Larson said. In July 1991, Garcia allegedly carried several compact discs out of a ShopKo store. Store officials notified police, who chased Garcia.

The family also questioned the police decision to pursue Garcia at speeds that reached 85 mph. The compact discs were valued at $104, which made the alleged theft a class A misdemeanor.

When the accident occurred, the police officer was backing off the chase, Larson said.

"The judge applied the law correctly. He said you can't blame the police if you run into somebody while fleeing a police officer. West Valley is very pleased with the ruling."

Gordon Jensen, attorney for the Garcia family, couldn't be reached for comment.