SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) A South Bend Police officer involved in a fatal car crash won’t be fired without a fight.
A disciplinary hearing began Monday for Officer Justin Gorny.
Gorny’s squad car was traveling at 98 miles an hour in a 30 mile per hour zone last July – four seconds before it collided with a Jeep at the intersection of Western Avenue and Kaley.
The driver of the Jeep, 22-year-old mother of two Erica Flores was killed in the crash.
Early on in today’s proceedings a video of the accident was publicly shown.
It’s unclear which vehicle had the green light although police admit they can’t prove that Gorny ran a red light.
Body camera video of the aftermath of the crash was also shown today to prove that Gorny was not wearing a seat belt.
“First of all there were at least two videos that I was able to watch where it showed officer Gorny laying across the center console after the collision,” said Chief Scott Ruszkowski. “Secondly, I arrived on scene and after a few minutes I not only looked at the seat belt but I touched the seat belt in the squad car and it was completely taught. Had not moved from the upright or normal position as if the car was parked.”
Video from a variety of business surveillance cameras in the area were used to prove that Gorny turned on his emergency lights just “two or three seconds” before the collision. “The operation by officer Gorny was intermittent, lights and/or sirens were not on all the time,” Ruszkoski said from the witness stand.
Gorny’s attorney pointed out that the officer had 15 to 20 previous pursuit videos reviewed without a single reprimand.
He also cited statistics showing that there were 227 accidents involving squad cars over the past three years and only three resulted in discipline.
“This is a terrible tragedy, clearly, and FOP 36, our thoughts and prayers are with the family. The Flores family as well as the Gorny family,” said FOP Lodge 36 Vice President Harvey Mills.
Outside the courtroom, the FOP issued a statement in support of officer Gorny, saying he was a special education substitute teacher and a sports coach when off duty.
“Officer Gorny is a spectacular officer. Got several accolades. His intention certainly was not to cause harm to the community—rather the opposite," said Mills.
Testimony is expected to continue Tuesday with the South Bend Board of Public Safety to decide Officer Gorny’s fate at a later date