Family sues after cruiser kills girl

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The family of an 11-year-old Kentucky girl has filed a wrongful death lawsuit for $7.5 million after the child was struck and killed by an on-duty sheriff's deputy as she crossed the street last month in Murfreesboro.

A spokeswoman for the Rutherford County Circuit Court Clerk's office on Monday confirmed that the family of Lakeisha White of Hopkinsville, Ky., filed suit on Friday. It names Rutherford County, the sheriff's office and Sgt. Ron Killings as defendants.

Also on Friday, Murfreesboro police suspended a commander after disclosing a two-hour lapse between the July 17 accident and the time when Killings had to submit to a blood-alcohol sample.

A bottle of premixed margaritas was recovered by a witness who told police he saw Killings dispose of it after striking the girl.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Lakeisha by her mother, Montessa Gomez, and other family members. The family alleges Killings failed to exercise due care, failed to keep his vehicle under due and reasonable control, was speeding and was driving in a reckless manner.

County Attorney Jim Cope said Monday afternoon he had not seen the lawsuit yet and was not in a position to comment. Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Dan Goodwin said it was a matter of pending litigation and it would be inappropriate to comment.

White was visiting relatives in Tennessee when investigators said she darted in front of Killings' unmarked car.

According to the lawsuit, Gomez said that she has suffered disturbances and injuries, both emotional and mental, including anguish, distress, anxiety, grief, and worry. She is suing for $5 million.

Montavious White, Rayneshia Coleman, Terry Coleman and Moniaveshia Collier are each suing for $250,000 and were listed in the suit as being in close ”physical proximity“ to the girl when the accident occurred.

White's six brothers and sisters are included in the lawsuit and are each asking for $250,000 for ”the loss of services, consortium, and unhindered companionship of their sister ... for all of which they deserve to be compensated.“

A secretary for Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess said he was not expected to be in the office Monday.