WELDON SPRING • The parents of a driver who was killed in a police pursuit in November say in a lawsuit that a St. Charles County police officer ignored two orders to end the chase before the crash.
The parents of Krystofer M. Batsell, 21, of St. Charles County, who was killed in the Nov. 17 crash, originally sued the driver who was fleeing police, Aron J. Richardson, of Union, in December.
Late Tuesday, they added St. Charles County, police and Officer Amanda Hopkins to the suit.
Kenneth and Constance Batsell’s suit, filed in St. Charles County Circuit Court, says police tried to arrest Richardson for traffic warrants, sparking the chase. They twice ignored a supervisor’s order to end the chase, even after a near-miss with another car, the suit says. Richardson, who was in a 1998 Dodge Durango, ran a red light and struck Batsell, who was in a 2002 Ford Focus, the suit says.
Batsell died about 45 minutes after the crash. A passenger in Richardson’s SUV was also injured.
Hopkins originally stopped Richardson for driving 73 mph in a 55 mph zone, the suit says. It says Hopkins then violated her department’s pursuit policy and was negligent while pursuing Richardson.
A county statement in response to the lawsuit said: “The County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has filed charges against Aron Richardson in the death of Krystofer Batsell. The County believes Richardson’s actions are the sole cause of the death.”
“The focus is on prosecuting Richardson for the crimes the County believes he committed that led to the death of Mr. Batsell,” the statement said.
The Batsells’ suit says Richardson was speeding and impaired by drugs or alcohol. Richardson is facing charges in St. Charles County Circuit Court of second-degree murder, resisting arrest, DWI and possession of a controlled substance. He has pleaded not guilty.
Richardson was out of jail on bond at the time of the crash, after being caught speeding in March 2018 on Interstate 55 in Ste. Genevieve County by the Missouri Highway Patrol, court records show. The trooper found marijuana, methamphetamines and a gun, the charges claim. Richardson has pleaded not guilty to those charges and is awaiting trial.
Grant Boyd, the attorney for the Batsells, said one of the two officers chasing Richardson stopped when a police supervisor ordered them to over the radio, but Hopkins kept going. Boyd said he obtained audio of that radio conversation.
“There were two very clear terminate orders,” Boyd said. “There is no other radio traffic during either terminate order. It’s not like it was overlapped by someone else.”
Boyd said about 10 seconds passed between the lieutenant’s two orders. The crash happened about 20 to 25 seconds after the first order, Boyd said.
Boyd said he knew Hopkins didn’t stop the pursuit because video showed that the lights on her car were still on at the crash site and that she was trailing the suspect’s vehicle.
“The pursuit should have never happened,” Boyd said. “She should have terminated it at the time she got the terminate orders. Had she done that, this never would have happened.”
Boyd said he didn’t think Richardson would have run the red light — killing Batsell — if the officer had stopped the pursuit.
Boyd said he thought the police, county, the officer and Richardson were all responsible. He said it would be up to a jury to decide how much responsibility each had.