Officials fault pedestrian killed by squad car

Woman struck in Balto. as officer headed to call

April 02, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

Police have ruled that the death of a Bolton Hill woman who was hit by a police car early Friday was a result of pedestrian error, a department spokesman said.

The woman was hit in midblock by an officer trying to reach a colleague breaking up a bar fight in Southeast Baltimore, police said.

Alyssa Caezza, 27, of the 1700 block of Linden Ave. was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash at 1: 30 a.m. in the 1500 block of Aliceanna St. in Fells Point. A graduate of Towson University, she was a server at the Cheesecake Factory, a Harborplace restaurant, and had just gotten a second job at the Camden Club at Camden Yards, her friends said.

'Everyone loved her' "She was just a great person." said Melissa Olsen, a co-worker.

"She was very, very funny," Amy Lewis, another co-worker, said as customers streamed into the popular restaurant yesterday.

A number of accidents involving police in the past two years have killed civilians and officers.

In 1998, Officer Harold J. Carey was killed when two cruisers collided. Pedestrian Martin Cook was struck and killed by a police car the same year.

Last month, Officer Jamie A. Roussey was killed when he went through a red light and hit another car.

Each of those accidents and Friday's involved officers racing to help colleagues who sounded what is called a signal 13 on their radios, a tone that indicates they need immediate assistance.

Officer responded to call

Officers responding to emergencies operate under strict rules that forbid high-speed pursuits.

They are restricted to 10 mph over the posted speed limit -- 25 to 30 mph on most city streets -- and must come to a complete stop at all red lights and stop signs to make sure the intersection is clear before going through.

The City Council is considering a bill that would impose fines on police officers who violate traffic laws. The police union has called the legislation too restrictive.

Police identified the officer involved in Friday's accident as Donta Booker, a five-year veteran assigned to the midnight shift in the Southeastern District.

Sgt. Scott Rowe, a police spokesman, said Booker was headed for Bohager's Bar and Grill in the 500 block of S. Eden St. to help an officer trying to break up a disturbance. He said Booker was using his emergency lights and siren.

Rowe said Caezza was walking across Aliceanna Street, from south to north, when she was struck by the cruiser, which was headed west. The spokesman said a civilian vehicle was traveling east about the same time and might have blocked Caezza's view.

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