By Whitney Covell
In April 2016, Deb Westergaard was struck by a truck in the middle of the pedestrian crosswalk on F Street between the Playfields and Community Park. She was knocked unconscious and woke up in the ambulance en route to UCD Med Center. Westergaard suffered a skull fracture that penetrated her sinuses, serious road rash on her face, arms, legs, and neck, and her left ear was severely injured.
Her complaint against the Davis Police Department is not resolved. The main points of that complaint include the fact that the responding officer did not properly investigate the collision, Westergaard was not interviewed until after the investigation was concluded, and the police department incorrectly applied California Vehicle Code 21950 to reach their conclusion. As a result of that misinterpretation of the CVC, she is considered to be at fault in the collision. The driver who hit her was neither cited for speeding, nor for driving without insurance, or hitting her.
Westergaard and her husband filed a citizen’s complaint about the police report which found her at fault despite the fact that she triggered the flashing lights and was hit halfway through the crosswalk. This complaint is still open. The Westergaards spoke with the city-employed police ombudsman, Bob Aaronson, who stopped answering their e-mails after the citizen’s complaint was reviewed with no change or satisfactory solution. Aaronson has since left this position. Westergaard spoke with the Yolo County district attorney’s office, in front of the City Council, as well as the police oversight committee. She spoke with the Mayor of Davis, as well as City Council member Will Arnold. Westergaard filed a complaint against law enforcement with the California Department of Justice and e-mailed countless politicians, including John Garamendi, and contacted numerous lawyers about civil rights claims.
The Davis Police Department not only owes Westergaard an apology, they have a duty to protect citizens who are hit in crosswalks, and not just falsely blame cyclists and pedestrians for collisions because it’s convenient. They also have a responsibility to not falsify information on reports as they did on Westergaard’s, stating the driver had insurance when he admitted on camera that he did not. I urge you to look into Westergaard’s case and her complaint about the Davis Police Department.