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Zephyrhills man sues police in chase

The man says he was helping chase a burglary suspect when an officer's car hit him.

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 24, 2000


DADE CITY -- A man who apparently set out to help Zephyrhills police has ended up suing them.

Michael Mira, 32, of Zephyrhills, filed suit against the city Thursday in Circuit Court, claiming a patrol officer struck him with his car on Dec. 18 at the Oak Side Cemetery. He is seeking unspecified damages and is demanding a jury trial.

Mira's complaint was was one of two unrelated lawsuits filed against the city of Zephyrhills on Thursday.

Mira's attorney, A.R. "Chip" Mander said Friday that his client suffered back injuries when he was hit by the patrol car. Mander said Mira had reported some burglaries and was chasing a suspect on foot when a responding patrol car, driven by Officer Curtis Hunt, hit him.

Zephyrhills police Chief Robert Howell on Friday said Mira actually ran into the side of the patrol car, denting it, and then refused medical treatment.

"I'm not sure what he was doing. I guess he decided he was going to help us," the chief said.

Howell, referring to police incident reports, said someone called in a burglary near the cemetery around midnight and one patrol officer was called to the scene. Hunt heard the call on his radio and went to the scene to assist.

When Hunt arrived, he saw a man with something in his hand. The man stopped when Hunt turned on his police lights, then ran into the cemetery, Howell said.

As the officer drove on a road in the cemetery, Mira ran into the side of the car, the chief said.

The burglar was never caught.

Howell said the case would be handled by attorneys for the city.

In a separate suit filed against the city of Zephyrhills on Thursday, a couple claims they were involved in a car crash because the city put up improper signs at an intersection.

According to a suit filed by attorney Alexander Hernandez on behalf of Jose and Rose Goitia, the couple claims they were driving west on Seventh Avenue on April 23 of last year when they went past a yield sign and collided with a car southbound on Fourth Street.

The intersection was overgrown and should have had a stop sign instead of a yield sign, the suit contends. The case has been referred to the city's insurance carrier.

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