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Orange County Digest

Local News in Brief : Santa Ana : Jury Supports Officer in Chase-Injury Suit

December 23, 1987

A Superior Court jury Tuesday found that a police officer was not negligent when his patrol car struck a vehicle driven by a Santa Ana woman during a high-speed pursuit of youth gang members almost six years ago.

David Orajo was a member of the Student Resource Officer Program at Santa Ana's Saddleback High School in February, 1988, when the chase took place. The program was initiated to help curb gang violence.

According to testimony during the weeklong trial, Orajo had been alerted that members of a youth gang planned to attack a rival group at the campus.

When a truckload of gang members illegally entered the campus, Orajo and a security guard at the school gave chase, according to court testimony. A car driven by Miriam Deckard was struck by Orajo's patrol car at the intersection of Bristol and Segerstrom streets.

Deckard filed suit for unspecified damages, claiming that Orajo was negligent during the pursuit. She suffered head and body injuries and underwent knee surgery. She said her injuries forced her to miss work for a year.

The jury took only two hours to reach a verdict in favor of Orajo and the city. A juror who declined to be identified said the jury felt that the police officer "had done nothing wrong" during the pursuit of the gang members.

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