A University of Kentucky sports photographer alleges that a Lexington police officer was driving an all-terrain vehicle without proper training when the officer struck him before a UK football game in October, according to court documents.
UK Athletics Photographer Chet White has sued the Lexington Police Department and Doug Pape, a Lexington Police officer who was driving the vehicle on Oct. 7 when he struck White on the UK Cat Walk at Kroger Field prior to the game. The lawsuit, filed in late May in Fayette Circuit Court, is asking for unspecified damages.
In court documents, White’s lawyers say the Cat Walk, an area behind Kroger Field, is a pedestrian-only area and Pape should not have been driving on it when he struck White.
Also, the ATV was not equipped with a siren or flashing lights to warn pedestrians the small vehicle was coming through the crowded Cat Walk, the lawsuit alleges.
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“Pape saw plaintiff in his path, and made an initial change of direction to avoid collision, but rapidly and unsafely changed course back in the plaintiff’s direction causing plaintiff to be hit by the rear wheels of the ATUV,” the lawsuit said. “Pape continued on after the obvious collision until he was forced to stop by the crowd.”
White was photographing the fans and the cheerleaders and did not see Pape or the ATV before he was struck and “sustained severe and permanent injuries,” the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also alleges Pape was operating the vehicle “without the training and certification(s) that were required by the Lexington Police Department and without specific authorization to do so.”
White suffered head, back, knee and shoulder injuries and has had to have surgery.
Justin Peterson, a lawyer for White, said he could not comment because the lawsuit was ongoing.
The city, in its response to the lawsuit, asked Fayette Circuit Court Judge John Reynolds to dismiss. In court documents, the city says the accident was the result of negligence on behalf of White, not Pape or the Lexington Police Department.
In its response, the city did not deny the police department had policies that required all ATVs to be “operated in accordance with training provided” but denied the remaining allegations.
Susan Straub, a spokeswoman for the city of Lexington, said the city does not comment on pending lawsuits.