In the moments before his patrol car crashed into a pickup and critically injured a 71-year-old man, evidence shows a Wichita police officer sped down Broadway at up to 100 mph without having emergency lights and sirens on.
Samuel Dugo was responding to a burglary reported at a building around Central and Washington at 10:38 p.m. on March 16 when his car slammed into Donald S. Clark’s Ford Ranger at 79 mph as Clark was crossing Broadway on Pine Street. The force of the impact threw Clark through his windshield, leaving him with brain bleeding, broken ribs, neck fractures and a broken shoulder.
At least two QuikTrip surveillance cameras monitoring the exterior of the Broadway and Murdock convenience store captured video of Dugo driving down Broadway with no visual warning alerting other motorists and pedestrians that he was responding to an emergency situation. In the video, it’s dark outside and a person can be seen finishing a walk across Broadway at Murdock about 10 seconds before Dugo’s patrol car zips through the intersection.
Other drivers are traveling at much slower speeds. You can see the headlights on Clark’s truck as he pulls out onto Broadway. The truck appears to spin around completely after Dugo’s patrol car hits it.
Another police vehicle, this one with lights on, approaches about two minutes later.
Prosecutors played clips from the surveillance footage in court this week before a judge bound Dugo over for trial on one felony count of aggravated battery alleging he caused great bodily harm to another by being reckless. He’s scheduled for a jury trial on Dec. 10. Dugo pleaded not guilty to the charge Tuesday, according to court records.
The Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office and the Wichita Police Department released the video Thursday to The Eagle in response to a pair of open records requests.
The Eagle also asked the DA’s Office to release copies of the other exhibits entered into evidence at Tuesday’s preliminary hearing. Those include photographs showing Dugo’s Chevy Tahoe patrol car with a smashed front end and ones that show a hole in Clark’s windshield.
The DA’s Office also gave The Eagle short video clips that illustrate Dugo’s location and his speed at several points while he was en route to the burglary call. That information was recorded using a tracking system, called an automatic vehicle location device, installed on his patrol car, according to the arrest affidavit released in September that was used to support Dugo’s criminal charges.
The tracking system clocked Dugo driving up to 100 mph on parts of Broadway south of 21st Street, going 75 mph on 21st Street near Arkansas and going 85 mph while he was on Broadway about a block north of Murdock. One and a half seconds before hitting Clark’s pickup, an event data recorder on Dugo’s patrol car recorded him speeding along at 79 mph — more than 2 1/2 times the posted speed limit of 30.
Wichita police have previously said Dugo was driving without lights and sirens — which would violate a department policy that says authorized emergency vehicles, including police cars, can exceed the speed limit only if they have their lights and sirens on and they don’t endanger someone’s life or property.
Dugo’s arrest affidavit says he told investigators he flipped off his emergency lights and sirens at around 13th and Broadway — about 1 1/2 miles away from the building burglary — “to avoid alerting any suspects.”
He also told investigators that it didn’t feel like he was traveling 79mph at Murdock and Broadway avenues and that “going 80 mph in that area would scare me.”
Dugo’s defense attorney, Jess Hoeme, did not immediately respond to an e-mailed request for comment about the release of the photos and video but said in a previous interview with The Eagle that Dugo’s driving “was consistent with police practices and not reckless” that night. He also previously said that Dugo took “evasive action in an attempt to avoid a collision” with Clark’s truck.
The QuikTrip surveillance footage shows Clark’s pickup at a stop sign at Pine and Broadway for about 10 seconds before pulled out into the street, the arrest affidavit says.
Dugo remains on unpaid administrative leave, Wichita police spokesman Charley Davidson said Friday. He started working for the department on July 5, 2016.