Washington Department of Corrections Responsible for Death [press release]

Washington Department of Corrections fails to follow its own policies in supervision of high violent offender that caused a deadly collision. Seattle attorney Chris Davis of the Davis Law Group has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Pierce County superior court on behalf of the Estate of Douglas W. Simmons (deceased) against the State of Washington Department of Corrections; the City of Federal Way, and Virginia Christine Ramsey (a convicted felon). 

Simmons, the father of two young children, was killed in a motor vehicle collision caused by Ramsey on July 26, 2010. According to a toxicology report, Ramsey was found to have been under the influence of illegal drugs at the time of the crash. Ms. Ramsey was a convicted felon under the supervision of the Department of Corrections. She had an extensive criminal record (at least 8 felonies and numerous misdemeanors) and had been under the DOC’s supervision on at least 3 prior occasions since the year 2000. The DOC had classified Ramsey has a “high violent, high risk” offender which according to DOC policy required it to provide the highest level of monitoring and supervision.

Ramsey also had an extensive and repeated history of violating the terms of her supervised release. In November 2009, Ramsey was arrested and convicted for violating several conditions of release. She was sentenced to 45 additional days in jail. However she was released early by DOC in December 2009.

During the period of February through March 2010, the DOC was informed several more times that Ramsey had violated multiple more conditions of her release. Department policies required the DOC to request and issue an arrest warrant within 72 hours, which was never done. Instead, Ramsey was permitted to roam free for nearly 5 weeks. During that time she was arrested again for eluding and obstructing a police officer. However, Ramsey was later released from jail because the DOC had not timely issued an arrest warrant.

In April 2010, the DOC finally issued a warrant for Ramsey’s arrest, but failed to do anything to execute that warrant by searching for and apprehending Ramsey as required by DOC policy. After the warrant was issued, the DOC was notified on 3 separate occasions by Ramsey’s friends her whereabouts, but the DOC ignored this information. Instead, the DOC allowed Ramsey to remain free for four more months until she caused the motor vehicle collision that killed Mr. Simmons.

“According to a former supervisor at the Department of Corrections, this case is one of the most egregious failures by the DOC to properly monitor and supervise a high risk, high violent offender,” states Davis. “Even the DOC’s own critical incident review states that the DOC committed “blatant” and numerous violations of departmental policy in its handling of Ramsey’s case.” Davis says, “This lawsuit is really about holding the Department of Corrections responsible for repeated and egregious failures in this case and in cases over the years that have caused innocent citizens in Washington State to die and/or become severely harmed.”

Prior to the collision, Ramsey engaged a City of Federal Way police officer in a high speed chase in a heavily populated area. Ramsey increased her speed up to 80 and 90 miles per hour in an effort to avoid capture by the police officer. The lawsuit alleges that according to the City of Federal Way’s law enforcement policy, a police pursuit should be abandoned if it will endanger the safety of innocent citizens, or if the chase poses an unreasonable risk of danger to other people. The Federal Way police officer was aware within 10 to 15 seconds that Ramsey intended to flee and escalate the chase at very high and dangerous speeds. Yet the police officer failed to abandon the chase and/or request help from other officers. 

The lawsuit alleges that had DOC followed and complied with its own policies and procedures with respect to monitoring and supervising Ramsey, that she never would have been free to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs. The lawsuit also alleges that the Federal Way police officer who pursued Ramsey posed an unreasonable risk of danger and harm to other innocent citizens, in violation of its own departmental policy.

Original Source | Davis Law Group

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