In September of 2013, while driving a city-issued SUV, Houston Chief of Police Charles McClelland struck and injured a pedestrian who was legally crossing in a crosswalk in downtown Houston.
The pedestrian, James Harris, spent a year negotiating with the city for a settlement. But Harris says that the city has yet to make a reasonable settlement offer, and he is now filing a lawsuit against the city of Houston and against McClelland.
Harris, a lawyer, says that the accident has left him with severe medical problems and has affected his ability to work. Harris writes with his right hand, which was badly injured in the accident and needs frequent surgical intervention. He is suing for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
The accident underlines a greater problem: the dangers posed to Houston pedestrians. In spring of 2014, Houston was named the seventh most dangerous metro area for pedestrians in a report on pedestrian fatalities, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The report’s author, the National Complete Streets Coalition, claims that better street design would alleviate many of the risks. But Harris claims that unsafe driving was the main cause behind the accident that injured him. His lawsuit charges that the city failed to properly train police officers to avoid accidents and asserts that McClelland failed to brake properly because he was using a cellphone at the time of the accident.